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Photo: Missouri Attorney General's Office

Missouri’s attorney general files lawsuit against CPS over mask requirement

Saying that the cure should not be worse than the disease, Missouri’s attorney general has filed a 31-page class action lawsuit against school districts that have a mask mandate for students and teachers.

The lawsuit specifically names Columbia Public Schools (CPS), the Columbia School Board and CPS Superintendent Dr. Brian Yearwood. The lawsuit was filed in Boone County.

Columbia Public Schools (CPS) announced the mask mandate earlier this month, saying it’s about health due to the Delta variant.

“Forcing schoolchildren to mask all day in school flies in the face of science, especially given children’s low risk of severe illness and death and their low risk of transmission. Additionally, forcing schoolchildren to mask all day could hinder critical development by eliminating facial cues and expressions,” Attorney General Eric Schmitt says, in a written statement.

He says he filed the suit this morning “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.”

Schmitt’s lawsuit says children are at an extremely low risk of severe illness and death from COVID, and that children are at a low risk for spreading COVID. He cites data from the state Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) that no children under the age of ten have died from COVID. And that children make up less than one out of every 100,000 people who are hospitalized in Missouri.

Schmitt’s lawsuit says science shows that masks cause schoolchildren to suffer headaches, difficulty concentrating and drowsiness and fatigue.

Schmitt recently filed a lawsuit against St. Louis City and County, Kansas City and Jackson County for mask mandates. A judge in St. Louis County issued a preliminary injunction last week halting the imposition of the mask mandate there.

CPS cited high community transmission of the COVID Delta variant for the mask requirement for students and staff. CPS students in grades 1-12 are beginning the school year today. They are required to wear masks when indoors at school and on buses, regardless of vaccination status.

CPS officials say wearing a mask indoors is one mitigation strategy that will provide an additional layer of protection to keep all students and staff safe and in school.

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