Palo Alto Unified Sued by Special Needs Parent Over Fask Masks

Much of the debate over face masks has featured politically-driven sentiments and angry school board meetings rocked by anti-science agitators. But a small percentage of the debate concerns children with special needs, many of whom find it difficult if not impossible to don face coverings for hours at school each day.

One of those cases has resulted in a lawsuit against the Palo Alto Unified School District. The suit was filed by the father of a disabled high schooler who was allegedly kicked out of summer school because he would not wear a mask. The student needs the summer school credits for graduation, his father says.

According to the plaintiff, the student is unable to pronounce words properly with a face covering. Other special needs students, including some with autism spectrum disorder, struggle with sensory processing difficulties. These can make the minor discomfort of a face mask feel unbearable.

As schools prepare for the full return to in-person learning this fall, they will face more of these legal, ethical, and educational dilemmas. Below are some resources for parents and administrators confronting the challenge of masking and special needs.

California Department of Education Official Letter on Students With Disabilities and Face Coverings 

COVID-19: Face Masks and People with Disabilities from Disability Rights California 

Talking To Kids About The Importance Of Wearing Masks Amid COVID-19 Pandemic 

Social Stories for Young and Old on COVID-19 


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