AUSTIN, Texas — A federal appeals court ruled in favor of state officials Monday in a case about an injunction that aimed to push back against Gov. Greg Abbott's mask mandate ban for public schools.
The 2-1 ruling threw out a lower-court injunction from U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin, issued in November. Yeakel blocked an order from Abbott that banned mandatory face masks, saying such a ban put students at risk and "violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by denying them the opportunity to participate equally in school."
The State of Texas then appealed, and the appeals court did not allow the establishment of Yeakel's injunction for the duration of the case assessment, according to KVUE's media partners at the Austin American-Statesman.
The Statesman reports that in delivering its ruling Monday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said students failed to prove that the mandatory mask ban "put them at imminent and concrete risk of contracting COVID-19."
Judge Andrew Oldham wrote that the Americans with Disabilities Act does not apply to mask-related issues but only guarantees that students can attend school.
Judge Eugene Davis ruled in favor of the students and said Oldham's focus on the issue of infection risk "mischaracterized the students' argument." According to the Statesman, Davis said, "The students argued that state Attorney General Ken Paxton's dogged defense of Abbott's ban on mask mandates, including lawsuits against school districts and threats of additional litigation, amounted to disability discrimination."
The Statesman reports that Monday's federal court ruling did not affect several other cases over the legality of Abbott's ban on mask mandates that are still awaiting action at the Texas Supreme Court.
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