Since we have never faced these issues before, we receive very little guidance from past court rulings or the experiences of those who refused to submit to these mandates. However, after consulting with others, including experienced educators and attorneys, we believe districts can require measures like these during this crisis as health departments require schools to protect students and staff as well as the broader community.
We believe the only potential alternatives to compliance with these mandates are as follows:
Medical accommodations: If a doctor verifies that a medical situation cannot allow such a mandate (such as wearing a face mask), the district must accommodate in some manner if possible.
Religious accommodations: If a person has a sincerely held religious belief that forbids them to follow such a mandate, the district must accommodate in some manner if possible.
We will certainly assist our members in requesting these accommodations. However, if a member refuses to submit to a district’s mandate without properly invoking one of the above-mentioned accommodations, we are not confident of a positive result in a job action, despite the fact that we will certainly defend our member.
While we do anticipate legal battles, the more critical battle in this unusual season is spiritual. We at CEAI encourage you in this season to embrace a strong faith in our God whose perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). Romans 8:28 reminds us that God is working all things to our good, even COVID, if we love Him and are called according to His purpose.
Remember that it is not so much that circumstances are coming against you; rather, as ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20) you are released by God into circumstances to bring His love and transformation. God is with you.