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A judge dismisses a lawsuit to limit school pandemic prevention measures

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A judge dismisses a lawsuit to limit school pandemic prevention measures

A 3rd District Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by parents who challenged the constitutionality of laws passed by the Utah Legislature and signed by Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, which limited pandemic restrictions such as orders on masks, which they said safely respect children’s rights to free public education.

Judge Vernis Tris ruled in an 18-page judgment that the lawsuit was found to be meaningless because of subsequent events and because the plaintiffs were not entitled.

In a lawsuit filed in August 2021, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, Utah Lt. Deidra Henderson, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and Salt Lake County were named as defendants. Only Cox and Salt Lake County are named in the amended amendment.

Among the plaintiffs along with parents whose children have a disability or are at risk Concerned coalitionwhich insisted on medical practices such as camouflage to ensure the safe return of students to personal learning in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The lawsuit alleges that laws preventing local schools from accepting mask requirements violate the Utah Constitution, restrict access to free, appropriate public education guaranteed by Article X of the Utah Constitution, deprive students of due process and equal protection, and harm vulnerable individuals. family.

As for claims to the county, Trez ruled that when the Salt Lake County Council voted to uphold the 2022 ordinance, which provides for the wearing of masks in schools, it found the plaintiffs’ claims against the county controversial.

“Indeed, the plaintiffs later stated that they were withdrawing their claims to the county. The district also found that the plaintiffs’ claims against the district were meaningless because the requested assistance was not available and would not affect the rights of the plaintiffs and would not harm the injuries inflicted on them, ”Tris wrote.

When the plaintiffs clarified that they were only seeking to declare the statutes unconstitutional, “which showed that the plaintiffs were not actually seeking help from the county,” the ruling said.

As for Cox, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs ‘claims were “largely unprecedented under the 2022 order, and when the plaintiffs clarified that they were seeking remedies that did not compensate for their injuries or otherwise affect the plaintiffs’ rights.”

The judge’s ruling states that COVID-19 is a serious virus with a high degree of transmission, “which has significantly affected our lives as various protective measures have been taken and lifted. The parties do not dispute that universal camouflage is an effective way to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Plaintiffs allege that when the legislature and council terminated the current mask mandate in county schools, it did not allow plaintiffs to attend school in person. They started this case to rectify the situation. However, the plaintiffs’ claims must be rejected because their claims have been found to be indisputable as a result of subsequent events and because the plaintiffs have no legal force. “

One of the first actions of the Utah legislature during the 2022 general session was to pass legislation who stopped local orders for COVID-19 in Salt Lake and Summit counties. However, neither the lawmakers nor the Utah legislature were defendants in the lawsuit, and Trez’s ruling does not affect these developments.

Responding to the ruling, the Coalition is concerned expressed disappointment with Trease ‘s decision.

“We remain confident in the merits of our position and will continue to explore all legal avenues. Our legal cause is vital to verify the redundancy of elected leaders and restore the relevant credentials of local health and education institutions. Despite the current lull in COVID-19 infection in Utah, we firmly believe that state and local government officials have violated the state’s constitution and put vulnerable children in protective classes at unnecessary risk at a time when our communities were at unprecedented risk. for public health.

“This decision is of particular concern amid a halt to mitigation efforts in Utah and across the country, leaving vulnerable populations at risk. Without a review of the legislature, local authorities will not be able to adequately respond to future health emergencies, ”the group said in a statement.

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