SPLC request for injunction on Cobb schools' virus protocols rejected by federal judge

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Oct. 16—A federal judge has rejected the Southern Poverty Law Center's request for an emergency order requiring the Cobb County School District to "immediately begin implementing CDC guidelines for COVID-19 prevention in K-12 schools."

John Floresta, the district's chief strategy and accountability officer, told the MDJ the school district was informed of the decision by its attorneys Friday. A copy of the decision was not immediately available, and the SPLC could not immediately be reached for comment.

The SPLC and two metro Atlanta law firms filed suit against the district on Oct. 1 on behalf of four district students with disabilities.

The plaintiffs argued that anything less than CDC-recommended protocols puts the students' lives at risk and forces them into substandard virtual classes, a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

In the 2020-2021 school year, the school district followed CDC protocols, among them the requirement that all students wear masks in school buildings.

Ahead of the 2021-2022 school year, Ragsdale announced the district would give parents and students the option of wearing masks, while maintaining or tweaking other coronavirus protocols.

"This district is not, has not, nor will not be anti-mask," Ragsdale said during last month's school board meeting. "We strongly encourage mask utilization. We strongly encourage those that are comfortable to become vaccinated. However, we are focused on that being your decision as a parent, as a family, as an employee."

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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