D.C. Families Withdraw Lawsuit After Mayor Lifts Mask Mandate for Children in Religious Schools

When Mayor Muriel Bowser lifted the District of Columbia’s mask mandate for indoor public spaces last month, effective March 1, she didn’t do the same for children in religious schools.

Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) filed a lawsuit earlier this month on behalf of two families with children in Roman Catholic schools. The parents said the mask mandate “is void under the First Amendment, because it is neither generally applicable nor neutral toward the Parents’ religious exercise of providing Catholic formation and education for their children.” The complaint noted the physical and mental effects of wearing a mask for seven hours a day.

ADF announced that the parents have withdrawn their lawsuit after the mayor lifted the mask mandate on religious schools. But the parents could refile the lawsuit if the mayor orders another mandate.

“There was no legitimate reason to say that the parents of children in private schools can’t make their own decisions regarding masks while people in nearly all other private entities can,” said Sheila Dugan, one of the parties of the lawsuit. “For that reason, we are pleased that D.C. removed mask mandates on kids in religious schools the day after we filed our lawsuit. Although we are dismissing our case, we remain concerned that the District is threatening to make kids in religious schools wear masks again if CDC numbers change. The District is not attaching that requirement to other places—like strip clubs, sports venues, and offices. If the District actually imposes a mask mandate on religious schools in the future, this discrimination could land the District right back in court.”

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