COVID-19 Mask Mandate for Pre-Kindergarten Through Grade Twelve Schools
On September 17th, 2021, HoganWillig, on behalf of Petitioners, filed a lawsuit challenging the procedure taken by Governor Kathleen Hochul, New York State Department of Health, and its Commissioner, Howard Zucker, in requiring students, teachers, and staff to wear masks throughout the school year while receiving and providing in-person instruction. A universal mask mandate was imposed by NYS, in late August of 2021, on all public and private schools as students returned to classes for the 2021-2022 school year.
The Petitioners, NYS Senator George M. Borello, Niagara County Legislator John Syracuse, NY Parents to Unmask Children Inc., and several individual parents on behalf of their minor children, challenge this mandate, in part, on the basis that there no longer exists an emergency which justifies the use of the Department of Health’s regulations, as applied to students in Pre-Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade. Furthermore, the State seemingly failed to follow appropriate procedures governing the enactment of emergency regulations, as delineated in the State Administrative Procedure Act.
Petitioners are advocating for parental choice regarding masking children in schools and ask that Respondents provide definitive policies properly made pursuant to the laws and standards of the State of New York. Furthermore, the suit maintains that because the long-term impacts of masking children are unknown, including its impact on learning, social and emotional development, and health and mental health, the choice should be left to individuals and parents in the case of minor children.
This challenge is expected to be followed by a federal lawsuit, challenging the constitutional grounds of a mask mandate in pre-kindergarten through grade twelve schools. If you are interested in joining this action, please fill out the form below.
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