Families View Mask Order as Discriminatory Against Students in Special Education

Attorneys Feel San Diego Unified’s Policy May Violate Federal Disability Law

Sensory defensiveness, a hallmark of autism, makes wearing a face mask a near impossibility for some individuals with the disorder. This is the case for a 5-year-old boy who has been diagnosed with both an intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Unfortunately his school district, San Diego Unified, has an uncompromising mask policy that does not allow in person learning for students who are unable to wear a face covering. San Diego Unified’s policy is causing concern among parents and attorneys who suspect the guideline may violate laws protecting people with disabilities. Rights are at the heart of this dilemma.  Specifically who has more rights, the school district employees who want to attend school safely during the pandemic or students with disabilities who cannot wear a mask to receive an education in a classroom setting? This question has yet to be settled. In the meantime, advice offered from a pediatrician in the area is for special needs parents to teach their children to tolerate face coverings since the pandemic is bound to last into the new year. 

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