ATLANTA (AP) – Four parents are suing Cobb County School District on behalf of their children, saying Georgia’s second largest school district’s failure to require masks means their students cannot safely attend face-to-face classes because of their disabilities.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Atlanta on Friday. The Atlanta suburb of 107,000 students is said to be in violation of federal law, including the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. These laws regulate how students with disabilities are treated in public schools.

“Rather than using the tools known and available to mitigate the threat of COVID-19 and protect plaintiffs ‘access to school services, programs and activities, the district has made a conscious indifference to plaintiffs’ rights to inclusion, health and education acted. “Alleges the lawsuit.

When the Southern Poverty Law Center threatened the lawsuit on behalf of the students earlier this week, the Cobb schools of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “as with any problem, student-to-student needs are supported.” and we actively encourage any student or family to discuss their needs with their local school. “

The lawsuit calls on U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten Sr. to instruct the district to follow CDC guidelines, including not just masks but issues such as ventilation, physical distancing and contact tracing. It also demands damages and legal fees. She also calls on Batten to issue an injunction as soon as possible.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed nationwide to force schools to require masks under the Federal Disability Act.

The protests have been focussing on whether masking is required in Cobb schools for months. Like many in Georgia, Cobb canceled his mask order late last year. But many districts have re-imposed mask orders in August this year due to the rapid spread of the delta variant of COVID-19 at the start of school. Although some counties have since canceled mask orders, an Associated Press count found that more than half of Georgia’s 1.7 million high school students were required to wear face covers in school at the height of the state’s recent COVID-19 surge.

However, Cobb said masks are only highly recommended. Superintendent Chris Ragsdale last month vigorously defended the policy, noting that cases in Cobb schools – like schools and the general population across the state – were declining, saying there was no evidence that masks were required decreased the number of cases in schools.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released two studies in the past few months that found masks were effective in lowering cases and advises that masks should be mandatory for everyone in schools when they do the virus spreads quickly regardless of vaccination policy.

The lawsuit states that Ragsdale’s position is based on “dubious research and selected data”.

Cobb was not alone in this attitude. The Cherokee and Forsyth counties never placed mask orders last year when Cobb did. But Cobb has been torn by conflict, with a narrow Conservative majority in the school board opposing groups calling for masks. The lawsuit alleges that the four white Republican school board members “form a politically and racially motivated majority voting bloc” that disregards the position of three black Democrats on the board.

The lawsuit states that students are at greater risk due to their illnesses from COVID-19. One has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, one has a weakened immune system from previous leukemia, one has an impaired airway called bronchiectasis, and one has severe asthma and a history of pneumonia.

“Plaintiffs’ children have requested that, as they did last year, the defendants implement effective COVID-19 security protocols so they can go to school. But these requests were denied or ignored, ”the lawsuit said. “Now the plaintiffs are at home, isolated from their colleagues, where they receive insufficient virtual training or no training at all.”

Georgia’s recent peak was particularly bad with children. A roaring epidemic that coincided with the start of school happened two weeks before Labor Day, when nearly 1 in 50 school-age children nationwide registered confirmed infections and 1 in 70 in Cobb. For the first time in the pandemic, the per capita rate in children ages 5 to 17 exceeded the per capita rate in adults aged 23 and over. Although the number of new cases is falling sharply, the data released on Friday show that school-age children still have a higher per capita infection rate than adults. The statistics also show that the number of cases is almost three times what it was before school started.

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Follow Jeff Amy on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jeffamy.