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Federal judge blocks Gov. Bill Lee's mask opt-out executive order with preliminary injunction

Until there's a final verdict, all Tennessee students must wear masks in school

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Federal judge Sheryl Lipman ruled Friday morning, issuing a temporary injunction, that masks will still be required in schools until there's a final verdict in the case.

Two weeks ago, Judge Lipman issued a temporary restraining order allowing for masks to be requires in Shelby County schools, despite Governor Bill Lee’s executive order allowing parents to opt out.

That restraining order was set to expire Friday afternoon.

Three Shelby County families with disabled children filed a lawsuit challenging Lee's order. Lawyers for the families said the opt out option violates the Americans with Disabilities Act, and that medically vulnerable children have the right to access school just like healthy children.

Lee's executive order would allow parents to let their children go to school unmasked.

"The state is asking that the school districts create segregated environments for disabled and nondisabled students. I thought separate but equal was already decided but apparently we are going to argue that again as it relates to students with disabilities,” said Brice Timmons, an attorney for the parents.

Shelby County also filed a lawsuit against Lee over the opt out issue. A hearing in that case will be heard October 1st.