Manasso’s mother is among the contenders for the optional Yangkin law

Manasso’s mother has joined 11 other Virginia parents in a lawsuit to end a new state law that makes masks optional in Virginia public schools and repeals a new policy of optional masks in the district’s public schools.

This article was written by WTOP news partner InsideNoVa.com and reissued with permission. Subscribe to Free subscription via InsideNoVa.com email today.

Manasso’s mother has joined 11 other Virginia parents in a lawsuit to end a new state law that makes masks optional in Virginia public schools and repeals a new policy of optional masks in the district’s public schools.

Submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, 12 parents initially filed a lawsuit against Gov. Glen Yangkin, Attorney General Jason Miares, Virginia State Education Superintendent Gillian Bell, and Virginia Health Commissioner Collina Green’s Virginia Manegee for failing to do so. schools. After the order was temporarily blocked by a state judge in Arlington, the General Assembly passed SB 739, essentially codifying Youngkin’s order from March 1st. In response, school departments across the state lifted mandates for masks last week.

Now 12 parents and the ACLU have amended their lawsuit in U.S. District Court for West Virginia, seeking a ban against SB 739 and arguing that it deprives school departments of their ability to fulfill their obligations to students with disabilities under Americans. Disability Act. A virtual hearing on the petition for the prescription is scheduled for March 7.

“Defendants, through both Decrees 2 and SB 739, discriminate against students with disabilities in violation of federal law; In the absence of prior assistance, the plaintiffs are likely to suffer irreparable damage, “- said in a new petition filed on Tuesday.

One of the 12 plaintiffs is Tasha Nelson, the mother of 10-year-old Jenny Dean Elementary School in Manas. Jack, Nelson’s son, suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disease that can interfere with breathing and makes patients particularly prone to lung infections.

Nelson says that because of his condition her son, who in a suit is called JN, is at high risk for a serious illness from COVID-19.

“If there is no more mask in Manassas City public schools, JN parents will have to choose between sending JN to a school that puts JN’s health and safety at risk, or withdrawing him from school and risking his success in education.”

On February 16, hours after Yangkin signed SB 739 in law, the Manasas school department announced that students without masks would be welcomed into classes without any additional mitigation efforts, such as separation.

According to Nelson, she and Jack were in the car when they heard about the new law last Wednesday.

“He turned to me and he had big tears in his eyes and he said,‘ Mom, does that mean I can’t go to school? ’” Nelson told InsideNoVa. “He asked me if there was a way to inform the governor about children like him.”

Nelson says she tried to work with Dean Elementary School and City School management to find a workaround for Jack, either by removing him from students without a mask, or by forcing everyone in his class to wear masks. But from March 1, MCPS and other school units will be required by state law to welcome students without masks without additional mitigation strategies. Nelson says Jack’s doctors said he should be in school only when there is high gear in society when everyone is in disguise.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, high transmission is more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people registered in seven days. Cases have dropped significantly in Manasas and across the region, but the city still reported more than 200 new cases per 100,000 people in the past week. Patients with cystic fibrosis are particularly prone to severe cases of COVID: a recent study by the National Institutes of Health found that more than 10% of cystic fibrosis patients require immediate care within a month of being diagnosed with COVID, although this was done before vaccines were introduced.

“I follow the advice of his specialists only. His illness is rare and complex and requires a lot of knowledge and care, and so all his life everything we did in relation to his health was on the recommendations and recommendations of a doctor who specializes in cystic fibrosis and pulmonary, “said Nelson. .

While Jack stays at home and Tasha gets homework from school that he has to complete as if he himself had a positive COVID test. But this forced Tasha to miss work, as Jack misses the specialized training he received at school due to lack of training.

“This situation is devastating [Jack]., who cries daily when his siblings are taken to school and he cannot go. [He] feels isolated, subject to astrocism and discrimination, and feels regret and even shame about his illness, ”the statement said.

At the solemn signing of SB 739 last week, Youngkin said he was once again giving parents the right to educate their children and that the optional mask policy would be a step in bringing Virginia back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Since mid-January and the peak surge of the Omicron option, cases of COVID and hospitalizations in the state and country have declined rapidly. And by signing SB 739, Yangkin fulfilled his campaign promise to end mask mandates in Virginia schools. Parent groups across North Virginia have also put pressure on school departments to repeal the mask requirements.

But for the 12 parents in the lawsuit and other parents of children who may be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19, the fall in cases is not enough. Nelson insists the lawsuit is not aimed at restoring mask mandates in Virginia public schools. She told InsideNoVa that she just wants departments to have more flexibility to create strategies to fully protect students like Jack while they teach at school.

“The risk of COVID-19 in children with high-risk diseases is irreparable,” the statement said.

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