FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — A Florida judge on Thursday refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the order by Gov. Ron DeSantis that parents should decide whether their children wear masks at school to combat the coronavirus.

The order by Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper clears the way for a three-day hearing next week on whether to block enforcement of the law.

The lawsuit was filed Aug. 6 by parents opposed to the DeSantis order banning schools from imposing mask mandates unless parents can opt out of the requirements.

Five Florida school districts — including four of the largest — are defying that order by permitting mask opt-outs only for medical reasons rather than parental choice. The attorney in the lawsuit, Charles Gallagher, said in court papers that such decisions should be left to local school boards, not imposed by the state.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox