Schools in Germany are not allowed to exclude students from class who don't wear suitable face coverings, an administrative court in Düsseldorf ruled on Tuesday.
Two students successfully sued a secondary school in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia after they were sent home indefinitely for wearing insect repelling mesh nets as face coverings. The school said the students would only be allowed back in school with permissible masks.
While the students were in violation of a mandate to wear proper face coverings in class, the school violated Germany's compulsory education law by sending them home, the court found. The current rules on enforcing coronavirus restrictions did not empower schools to send kids home purely on that basis, it ruled.
School health laws in the state do allow for schools to exclude students temporarily if they pose a health risk to other pupils. However, the court said, the school did not prove the two students posed a concrete danger, like the existence of an infection.
However, the court also said it would not grant the two children an exemption to the mask obligation on medical grounds, which they were seeking in a parallel lawsuit.
Tuesday's decisions could be subject to appeal at a higher court in the state.
Germany has a compulsory school attendance law that obliges children to attend classes. Many German states have also instituted a mask mandate in schools in response to the coronavirus pandemic, though some, like Saxony, have recently relaxed rules requiring masks in classrooms.