BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — The Louisiana House has overwhelmingly voted to give K-12 schools and colleges sweeping protections against civil lawsuits from students and teachers who contract an infectious disease, including COVID-19, while a federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit challenging Louisiana’s emergency plan for its July presidential primary and August municipal elections.

The measure dealing with schools and colleges is sponsored by Republican Rep. Buddy Mincey, a former Livingston Parish School Board member. The protections would be given to public and private K-12 schools; charter schools; and public and private colleges. Mincey says the limitation from liability is critical to allow schools to offer in-person classes this fall. Opponents say the protections could put students and teachers at greater risk of exposure. The House sent the measure to debate with an 82-17 vote Tuesday.

The emergency plan for the elections was written in response to the coronavirus outbreak. It was crafted by Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin and approved by state lawmakers in April. The plan increased early voting by six days and expanded mail-in balloting for some people at higher risk to the virus. Two separate lawsuits filed in Baton Rouge federal court argued the plan didn’t go far enough to protect people from the virus. U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick disagreed in a decision Monday that dismissed the consolidated lawsuits and upheld the emergency plan.

(Story written by Melinda Deslatte/AP)