KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The Knox County Board of Education filed a request in federal court Monday to change exemptions in the mask policy put into place last week by a federal judge.
Last week, the board was asked to provide the court with a list of medical conditions it believes may require exemptions from the mask mandate. In a response filed Monday, the board did not provide that list but rather asked to “alter or amend” the judgment due to “the manifest injustice which would result from the implementation of such order as written.”
The order forces the mask policy into place as it was established last year, without current exemptions. That means only students with autism or a tracheotomy are exempt. In today’s filing, the board asks for either a full-scale overhaul or to go back to last year’s exemptions. The board also requested authority to grant exemptions.
“KCBOE asserts that the framework proposed by the Court presents a manifest injustice which calls for an immediate remedy from the Court,” the district wrote in the filing.
“To create a blanket list of ‘conditions’ that prevent the wearing of a mask is contra to the purpose of the ADA [Americans with Disabilities Act],” the document says. “Otherwise, this Court and KCBOE would merely be “speculat[ing] about a person’s condition and would, in many cases, [be forced to] make a disability determination based on general information about how an uncorrected impairment usually affects individuals, rather than on the individual’s actual condition.”
The board said last year’s framework is simpler to implement and would better serve Knox County students than a list of medical conditions exempted, and that giving the board the freedom to grant exemptions would allow them to comply with federal disability and Special Education law, thus allowing the board to make sure “people with certain conditions receive an individualized inquiry into their needs.”
The case continues making its way through the judicial process.