On 8 October 2021, the Douglas County Health Department and the Douglas County Board issued a COVID-19 related Public Health Order that had the effect of loosening mask and quarantine requirements for public school students in Douglas County, Colorado. The Douglas County School District and nine School District students with disabilities filed a suit alleging that the Public Health Order violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Due to the urgency of the circumstances, Plaintiffs also requested issuance of an order temporarily restraining enforcement of the Public Health Order. Deeming that the risk of irreparable harm to Plaintiffs was significant, on 26 October 2021, the District Court of Colorado issued the temporary restraining order requested by plaintiffs.

The parties have now reached a friendly settlement of the case. Notably, to avoid the cost and time of further litigation, the parties have agreed to a settlement, signed on 8 June 2022, under the terms of which the County will pay to the School District a lump sum of $90,000 which will be used to hire a Psychological Safety Coordinator entrusted with the following tasks: “provide coordination, leadership, and facilitation of all components of District safety assessments and services, including mandatory child abuse reporting, suicide assessments, threat assessments, and crisis team response”. In other words, even though the settlement does not expressly refer to the mask policy order, it nonetheless addresses the issues underpinning the dispute by providing that the School District hire a skilled expert to whom to delegate the proper handling of crisis situations such as the one related to the spreading of COVID-19.

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Settlement agreement