August 24, 2021

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt today filed a class action lawsuit against school districts forcing a mask mandate on schoolchildren and teachers.

The lawsuit, which is a reverse class action that was filed earlier this morning, names Columbia Public Schools, the Board of Education for the School District of Columbia and their board members, and the Superintendent for Columbia Public Schools as defendants.

“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,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “We filed this suit today 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. I am committed to fighting back against this kind of government overreach.

Americans are free people, not subjects.” The lawsuit, which incorporates three counts argues that the imposition of a mask mandate on schoolchildren is arbitrary and capricious, that the mask mandate is subject to § 67.265, and that the mask mandate is unlawful as to schoolchildren. To support the claims that the mask mandate is arbitrary and capricious, the lawsuit argues that children are at an extremely low risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19, that children are at a low risk for spreading COVID-19, that masks fail to provide adequate protection against COVID-19 in children, and that masks are detrimental to the development of young children. Citing Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services data, the lawsuit notes that zero children under the age of 10 have died from COVID-19.

Further, the lawsuit notes that children make up less than 1 out of every 100,000 people who are hospitalized in Missouri. Citing a study from the United Kingdom, the lawsuit states, “Data from the United Kingdom regarding fatality rates from the delta variant show the case fatality rate from delta is lower than other variants, and it is near 0.0% for those under fifty years old.” Citing numerous medical studies, the lawsuit also makes the point that children have a low risk of transmitting the virus to other children.

A Netherlands study cited by the lawsuit confirms that, “(1) children play a minor role in the spread of the novel coronavirus, (2) the virus is mainly spread between adults and from adult family members to children, and (3) the spread of COVID-19 among children or from children to adults is less common.” The lawsuit, citing another study from the United Kingdom, states, “the author confirmed that there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools.” Specifically relating to the efficacy of masks themselves, the lawsuit argues, “Mask use by the general population shows, at best, a marginal impact on the spread of COVID-19. And most studies show no distinguishable difference between places with mask mandates and those without them.”

The lawsuit continues, “Though the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control advocates for universal public mask use, it has conceded that the evidence of the benefit in wearing a surgical mask was ‘of low to moderate certainty’ and failed to show statistically significant benefits.” Moreover, the lawsuit says, “One study found that ‘[r]ates of infection were consistently higher among those in the cloth mask group than in the medical mask and control groups. … The poor performance may have been because the masks were not washed frequently enough or because they became moist and contaminated.’” 

Lastly, the lawsuit argues that masks are a hindrance to development, especially in young children and those with special needs. A study cited by the lawsuit, which surveyed 25,930 schoolchildren, noted that 68% “complained about impairments caused by wearing the masks.”

The lawsuit, citing the World Health Organization, states, “The World Health Organization notes that masking young children raises social and communication concerns. 

Specifically, researchers are concerned that masks may ‘hinder verbal and non-verbal communication.’” The lawsuit also notes that the Columbia school districts continue to impose a mask mandate despite the Columbia City Council’s rejection of a citywide mask mandate. The suit incorporates three counts:

Count One: Declaration that the mask mandates are unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious

Count Two: Declaration that the mask mandate is subject to § 67.265 and expires without Board of Education authorizations

Count Three: Declaration that the mask mandate is unlawful as to schoolchildren The full complaint can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/2021-08-24—columbia-schools-petition-file-ready.pdf?sfvrsn=b365e116_2 Missouri

Attorney General Eric Schmitt recently filed suit against St. Louis County and City, Kansas City, and Jackson County for imposing a mask mandate. A St. Louis County judge issued a preliminary injunction last week halting the imposition of the mask mandate in St. Louis County.