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Attorney general letter reinforces Columbia school mask opposition

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ.)

A Columbia parent said Wednesday that her children were sent home from school after she sent them maskless, following the publication of a letter to school districts from Attorney General Eric Schmitt.

Schmitt said Tuesday that he sent letters to school districts that still require masks ordering them to stop enforcing the mandate, including Columbia Public Schools. Schmitt has also sued the district over its mask rule for all students and workers. No hearings have been scheduled in that case.

Jackie Seymour told ABC 17 News she sent her children to school maskless because of the letter. She said the schools called her to pick her children up early.

"They were getting pulled out of their class um.. appeared pretty intimidating um the way that it was going down. So my lack of patience got the best of me and I called the school to see what was going on". Seymour said.

Seymour says when she made that phone call she was told teachers at Beulah Ralph Elementary schools made rounds around the school removing the students from the classroom that weren't wearing a mask.

Parents in the Facebook group CoMo Citizens for CPS Accountability and Transparency have long taken issue with the mask mandate, which has been in place all school year and has been approved by the board of education. Several parents in the group wrote that they planned to send their children to school without masks after hearing about the letter.

CPS in an email sent to parents Tuesday said it plans to maintain the health protocols currently in place at the school district, which require students to wear a mask. Students exposed to coronavirus also have to quarantine.

"CPS continues to monitor both the COVID numbers within our school community, as well as how court decisions in pending litigation may affect our COVID mitigation efforts," the district wrote.

Seymour says it's frustrating there's no consistency with Columbia Public School mask mandates.

"I've got kids that go to another school...in Columbia Public Schools that are also not wearing a mask today and has not felt any retaliation from her teachers from making the decisions that she's mad", Seymour said.

CPS reported 49 students with active coronavirus infections Wednesday morning and 393 in quarantine because of exposure.

Schmitt's letter relies on a Nov. 22 Cole County judge's ruling that says non-elected officials can not issue and enforce public health orders in Missouri.

This means, "all mask mandates, quarantines and other public health orders invalidated regulations or issued outside of the protection of the Missouri and Administrative Procedures are null and void," Schmitt says in the letter.

Schmitt on Wednesday asked parents to report to his office school districts that continue to enforce coronavirus mitigation measures.

Check back for more on this developing story and watch ABC 17 News at 5 and 6.

Kennedy Miller

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