With the number of Covid-19 cases in Texas skyrocketing due to the Delta variant, Mr Rynders says, parents are faced with an “impossible” choice: risk their children’s health by sending them to school, or are at risk of educational disadvantage by keeping them at home.
The 14 plaintiffs in the lawsuit are all children under the age of 12, an age group not yet eligible for vaccination. One is Juliana Ramirez, 8. Her mother, Julia Longoria, said Juliana had begged to go back to her school in San Antonio. Juliana had panic attacks during the pandemic and her ADHD caused her to increasingly distance herself from online learning. But Juliana has asthma and Ms. Longoria is immunocompromised, making a coronavirus infection especially dangerous for both of them.
“We just couldn’t send her to school, but that’s just denying her an education,” said Ms. Longoria. “There wasn’t really a good option. Every option put her at risk in some way.”
Ms. Longoria said she was “terrified” of her daughter. She believes masks, along with other safety protocols, would help prevent her daughter from getting sick.
Another claimant is Stephanie Paresky’s 8-year-old son, who has spina bifida, epilepsy, ADHD and bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition that leaves him vulnerable to infections.
During virtual learning, Ms. Paresky, a Richardson resident, said her son was falling behind in reading and math because he wasn’t getting the same level of one-to-one services as before the pandemic. When the new school year began this month, she sent him back to his public school, where masks are required in defiance of the governor’s orders. His doctors told her he wouldn’t be able to get there safely if masks weren’t worn.
Texas Disability Lawyers said they were confident of a favorable outcome in the case. But Paxton, the state’s attorney general, has said he will continue to defend the governor’s ban on mask mandates, saying that “any school district, public university, or local government official who decides to disregard the order will face court.” be sued.”