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Sunday, August 29, 2021

Fighting Bans on Mask Mandates

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

People with autism and other disabilities appear to be at higher risk from COVID.

 At USA Today, Alia Wong reports on mask mandate bans. She cites the example of Samantha Boevers and her son Porter, a 4-year-old with autism.

Yet Boevers and her family live in South Carolina – one of more than half a dozen states where schools are prohibited from requiring everyone on campus to mask up. Mask-wearing has been the exception rather than the rule in many of South Carolina’s school districts, and evidence suggests the trend has taken a toll. South Carolina has the third-highest rate of pediatric COVID-19 infections in the U.S., according to data collected by the American Academy of Pediatrics, with children accounting for roughly a fifth of the state’s positive cases.

With the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, Boevers and other parents and advocates recently filed suit in federal court challenging South Carolina’s ban on school mask mandates. The lawsuit, which names several state officials and local school boards as defendants, alleges South Carolina’s policy violates federal law by effectively excluding students with disabilities from participation in the public education system.

It’s one of at least seven lawsuits filed in recent weeks in states with similar restrictions – including Arizona, Florida and Texas – many saying the rules violate the rights of students with disabilities. In one of the Florida suits, a circuit court judge has already issued a ruling, concluding the state’s order banning school mask mandates is unlawful and districts have the right to set their own policies.