Ruling expected soon in suit over Fulton County Schools’ mask mandate

A group of Fulton County parents are suing Fulton County Schools seeking to overturn the district's mask mandate. Curtis Compton/AJC FILE PHOTO

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A group of Fulton County parents are suing Fulton County Schools seeking to overturn the district's mask mandate. Curtis Compton/AJC FILE PHOTO

A judge said he will rule soon on a request for a temporary restraining order to prevent Fulton County Schools from enforcing its mask mandate.

Superior Court of Fulton County Judge Eric Dunaway heard arguments Friday on the request, part of a lawsuit filed last month by 11 families against the Fulton County school board.

During the hour-and-a-half-long virtual hearing, one of the plaintiffs — a mother of two Fulton high school students — and a clinical psychologist spoke about the harm they said masks pose.

The school district’s attorney defended the mandate and called for the judge to dismiss the case.

”In order for them to win, they need you to make new law on every single one of their legal theories. They need this court to be the tip of the spear and issue rulings that no court in the state has so far issued,” said Brandon Moulard.

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Jill Wright, one of the plaintiffs, told the court the district denied her request for a mask exemption for her 10th grade son. She said he suffers from a medical condition that makes it difficult for him to breathe, and that the mandate impacted her son’s enthusiasm for school.

“He’s not excited at all mainly because the teachers, certain teachers, continue to bully the children, yell at them in the hallways, in the classrooms, call them out by name if they’re not wearing a mask up over their nose,” she said.

The district required masks last school year but initially said face-coverings would be optional this year.

Then in early August, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended universal mask-wearing in schools and as COVID-19 cases surged, Fulton changed its policy. The district announced masks must be worn in schools located in cities with more than 100 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day period.

ExploreFulton County parents sue school district over mask mandate

Within days of the Aug. 9 start of the school year, all Fulton schools exceeded that threshold. Masks are required in all buildings until case counts drop.

The Fulton County plaintiffs raised nearly $30,000 in online donations to pay for the litigation.

Their lawsuit is not the only one of its kind in metro Atlanta.

In Gwinnett County, a group of parents opposed to that district’s mask mandate filed a similar complaint and are awaiting a judge’s ruling. Families who sued the Cobb County School District months ago dropped their case when the district made masks optional.