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Pediatrics Groups Back Families in Florida Mask Fight

TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - State and national pediatrics groups on Wednesday supported a request for a federal appeals court to block Gov. Ron DeSantis' executive order that seeks to prevent school mask requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Florida Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics sought approval to file a friend-of-the-court brief supporting family of children with disabilities who are fighting the July 30 executive order.

Attorneys for the families are requesting an injunction against the executive order while a lawsuit is pending at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Along with the request Wednesday, the pediatrician groups filed the proposed brief supporting the injunction.

"Over the past 18 months, (the groups) have worked ceaselessly to evaluate the dangers of COVID-19 and potential public health measures for reducing its deadly spread," the proposed brief said.

"The AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) has conducted a comprehensive review of the medical literature to determine what public health measures can effectively reduce the grave risk that COVID-19 poses to … children.

The result, and the experiences of the AAP's and FLAAP's (the Florida chapter's) front-line pediatric practitioners, prove beyond any doubt that universal mask policies are safe, effective, and necessary."

Attorneys for the families took the case to the Atlanta-based appeals court after U.S. District Judge K. Michael Moore last month refused to issue a preliminary injunction against DeSantis' executive order.

The lawsuit contends that children with disabilities face increased risks from COVID-19 and that the state's move to prevent mask requirements has violated the Americans with Disabilities Act and another law, the Rehabilitation Act, that protects the rights of people with disabilities.

DeSantis argues that parents should be able to decide whether children wear masks, and the state Department of Education is pursuing financial penalties against districts that restrict the ability of parents to opt-out of mask mandates.

In his Sept. 15 ruling, Moore wrote that the plaintiffs should have pursued administrative claims before filing the lawsuit. He said the plaintiffs have different circumstances, requiring "unique solutions."

(©2021 CBS Local Media. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.)


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