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Preventing & Treating Communicable Conditions

Geerlings v. Tredyffrin/Easttown School District

Overview

Geerlings v. Tredyffrin/Easttown School District (U.S. District Court, E.D. Pa., Sept. 27, 2021): A federal district court refused to prohibit enforcement of an order requiring that children wear masks in schools, with no religious exception. The parents claimed, on behalf of their children, that (1) the mask order infringed on their constitutional right to free exercise of religion; (2) the school district could not require masks because they are medical devices that have not been approved by the FDA; and (3) the Secretary of Health lacks authority to issue the order. Although the court determined that the absence of a religious exemption was unconstitutional, the court nevertheless concluded that the plaintiffs did not have sincere religious beliefs that were burdened by the policy. The court also found unpersuasive the argument framing masks as unapproved medical devices because the school district permits the use of widely accessible masks, not a specific mask manufactured by the district. Finally, the court refused to assess the scope of the Secretary’s authority, because that is a question of state law not appropriately raised in federal court. Read the decision here.

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – November 15, 2021.

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