Masks are still required in Knox County Schools, despite a request from five families asking a judge to offer relief for their kids.
Federal Judge J. Ronnie Greer denied the request from a group called Unmask Knox County Kids because the group did not file the right kind of complaint, according to court documents.
In the judge's order, he said the families behind the suit had to show "irreparable injury, loss or damage" in a verified complaint or affidavit, which they did not do.
Greer also kept his mask rule in place stemming from the original lawsuit brought by four families of disabled children who asked for help protecting their kids from COVID-19. The judge has not addressed the families' request to tie the mask rule to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which show masks are not required indoors in Knox County — at least according the most recent weekly report.
He did, however, order the Knox County Board of Education and the four families in the lawsuit to enter mediation. The board and the families have 60 days to meet and file a mediation report.
The rules for federal mediation say mediation can result in a settlement, continuing mediation or terminating mediation without a settlement.
The separate lawsuits are intertwined because they represent two classes of students, those who are harmed by an unmasked school community and those who have conditions aggravated by masks.
This article originally appeared on Knoxville News Sentinel: Knox County Schools mask rule stands as judge orders next steps