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Judge rules against blocking Phoenix Union mask mandate

A Maricopa County judge has ruled that the state ban on mask mandates in classrooms does not take effect until Sept. 29, referencing Arizona law.

PHOENIX — Editor's note: The above video aired during a previous broadcast.

Phoenix Union High School District's mask mandate will stay in effect at least until Sept. 29, according to a ruling made by Maricopa County Judge Randall Warner on Monday.

The ruling came during a lawsuit between the district and Metro Tech biology teacher Douglas Hester with a motion for a temporary restraining order. The lawsuit was in regard to the district imposing a mask mandate after a ban on mandates was signed into state law. 

"Under Arizona law, new laws are effective 90 days after the legislative session ends, which is September 29 this year," Warner wrote in his ruling. "IT IS ORDERED denying Plaintiff's August 2, 2021 Motion for Temporary Restraining Order."

Hester sued the district for imposing a mask mandate on students and teachers.

RELATED: Battle over Arizona school mask mandates hits the courtroom

Phoenix Union argued the teacher's lawsuit should be dismissed. Judge Warner also ruled that the court will not fully dismiss the case without giving Hester the opportunity to amend the lawsuit.

In a statement on Monday, Phoenix Union said: 

"Today’s decision is much larger than PXU –it has the potential to impact the 1.1 million students who call Arizona’s public schools home, as well as their families and the broader community. This decision will allow districts across the state to continue to prioritize the health, safety, and wellness of their staff, students, and families.

"The science is clear –the two most effective ways to minimize the spread of COVID-19 are the vaccine and universal masking while indoors."

The law in question was part of the state budget signed by Governor Ducey back in June, which banned public schools from imposing mask or vaccine mandates on students and staff.

Another lawsuit, filed on Thursday, could offer more guidance on what the state and school districts are allowed to do.

Several school groups, including two board members from PXU, are suing the state. Their claim in the lawsuit is that prohibiting mask mandates undermines the rights of school children and that the state passed it illegally.

RELATED: Arizona schools suing state government over classroom mask mandate ban

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