MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Lee has signed a controversial mask mandate ban into law, but students in Shelby County Schools will still have to mask up.
Shelby County filed an emergency motion Thursday for clarification of its authority under the new legislation. The crux of that motion states because of this legislation “it is no longer clear what mechanisms of enforcement may be available to Shelby County.”
Attorneys for the county and the parents who filed a lawsuit against Governor Lee over his mask opt out order were present for Friday’s virtual hearing with U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman presiding.
A central question was if the new legislation changes the current preliminary injunction. The injuction allows Shelby County to “enforce its Health Orders without exception to Governor Lee’s Executive order No. 84.”
Lipman said it was issued to ensure the guidelines of the Americans with Disabilities Act was followed in schools and schools could provide reasonable accomodations to protect children with disabilities. The injuction was to remain in effect until a final decision is made in the case brought by several Shelby County parents.
Friday afternoon, a federal judge decided those measures could remain in place to protect children from COVID-19. Doctors agree with the judge’s decision.
“We are not there yet, and so I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to continue to choose to wear masks and to continue to have their children masked in school,” said Dr. Sandy Arnold with Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital.
The attorneys for the parents that have already filed suit against Lee say they plan to file another lawsuit against this new legislation, which will include plaintiffs from Shelby, Williamson and Knox counties.