JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KMIZ)
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt wants to add more schools to the lawsuit challenging Columbia Public Schools' mask mandate for students and staff.
The attorney general filed motions Friday for class certification and a preliminary injunction in the state's lawsuit against mask mandates for school children in school districts across the state. An injunction, if granted, would halt mask rules at CPS and possibly in other districts where they're in effect.
“Forcing children to wear masks in school all day long flies in the face of science and could hinder crucial development by eliminating facial cues and expressions,” Schmitt said in a news release. “We filed this case because we fundamentally don’t believe in forced masking, rather that parents and families should have the power to make decisions on masks, based on science and facts. We plan to continue to aggressively litigate this case moving forward.”
The lawsuit initially filed on Aug. 24 is a reverse class action. If granted, class certification would apply to all public school districts in the state that have a mask policy. The original lawsuit named Columbia Public Schools, the Columbia Board of Education and its board members and the district's superintendent as defendants.
The lawsuit claims mask mandates are unreasonable for children.
Experts say the delta variant of the coronavirus is affecting more children, and the state has reported an increasing proportion of cases in school-aged children. CPS reported having 416 students in quarantine because of coronavirus exposure and 64 active cases in students Friday. The cases and quarantines affected 18 of 21 elementary schools, six of seven middle schools and all four high schools.
Columbia Public Schools is one of just a few districts in Mid-Missouri that require masks. The Jefferson City School District requires them indoors where social distancing is not possible. Southern Boone Public Schools implemented a temporary mask requirement for elementary students and staff because of high numbers of cases and quarantines in the school, drawing protests from parents.