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Judge: Gov. Lee’s mask opt-out violates federal law; will remain blocked in Williamson Co.

bill lee
Posted at 6:44 PM, Oct 22, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A judge has ruled that Gov. Bill Lee’s executive order that allows parents to opt-out of mask mandates violates federal law, and it will continue to be blocked in Williamson County.

U.S. District Judge Waverly D. Crenshaw Jr. issued the ruling Friday after the governor recently extended his mask opt-out order through November.

“As discussed above, the elected Williamson County and Franklin school systems have statutory authority to impose temporary universal mask mandates to protect their constituencies and to support public health,” according to court documents.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of a 13-year-old girl with Down syndrome and a 7-year-old girl with Type 1 diabetes argued Williamson County school buildings and buses were not safe for students with special needs.

In August, Gov. Lee issued an executive order allowing parents and guardians to opt their student out of school mask mandates for any reason at all.

Federal judges have blocked the order from being implemented in Knox, Shelby and Williamson counties. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said he was pursuing appeals in Shelby and Knox counties.