Virginia judge says parents of 12 immunocompromised kids can ask schools to require masks

The lawsuit was filed in February after newly elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order making coronavirus face masks optional in schools and the General Assembly passed a similar law earlier this year

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A Virginia judge on Wednesday ruled that the parents of 12 immunocompromised children can request that their schools require other students to wear masks.

"Our initial reaction was pure relief," Tasha Nelson, a mother and plaintiff in the lawsuit, told FOX 5 in Washington, D.C., after the judge's ruling. "Jack is 10 years old. He loves science, he’s a goofball, he’s a gamer. He also lives with a disease called cystic fibrosis. He takes about 50 pills a day. He does about one to two hours of physical therapy a day … quite frankly, he works harder for every breath he takes than anyone you’re likely to have ever met." 

Some of the other children represented in the suit are going through cancer, or have asthma, weakened immune systems, Down syndrome or lung conditions, according to The Hill. 

People gather in support of continuing the school mask mandate outside the Loudon County Government Center prior to a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, in Leesburg, VA.

People gather in support of continuing the school mask mandate outside the Loudon County Government Center prior to a Board of Supervisors meeting on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, in Leesburg, VA. (Photo by Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

The lawsuit was filed in February after newly elected Gov. Glenn Youngkin signed an executive order making coronavirus face masks optional in schools and the General Assembly passed a similar law earlier this year. 

VIRGINIA PARENTS FRUSTRATED SOME SCHOOLS ARE STILL FORCING MASKS ON KIDS

The plaintiffs argued that the law violated the federal Americans with Disabilities Act and the Rehabilitation Act.

Jack’s doctor told Nelson that when cases go up he would need to have anyone around him masked, but his school wasn’t able to accommodate them because of the law, meaning he would have to miss classes. 

Gabby Mondelli teaches her fourth grade students at Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday, August 19, 2021. The Alexandria City Public School district  has mandated that everyone wears masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Gabby Mondelli teaches her fourth grade students at Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday, August 19, 2021. The Alexandria City Public School district  has mandated that everyone wears masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status. (Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Norman Moon’s preliminary injunction gives the Nelsons and the 11 other families the right to ask the schools to require masks, but it doesn’t force the schools to override the law, according to FOX 5

Moon said, though, that federal law supersedes state law and requires "reasonable modifications" for students with disabilities "from otherwise applicable state or local laws."

Jean Ballard, left, and Heather West, join about two dozen parents gathered outside Woodgrove High School in an anti mask protest January 24, 2022 in Purcellville, VA.

Jean Ballard, left, and Heather West, join about two dozen parents gathered outside Woodgrove High School in an anti mask protest January 24, 2022 in Purcellville, VA. (Photo by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

"Today’s ruling affirms that Governor Youngkin’s Executive Order 2 and Senate Bill 739 is the law of Virginia and parents have the right to make choices for their children," Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares, a defendant in the lawsuit, said in a statement. 

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The school would be allowed to judge how to implement reasonable accommodations for the students and the entire school wouldn’t need to be masked but rather just those around the immunocompromised student, according to The Hill.