SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri’s Attorney General Eric Schmitt has now filed 36 lawsuits against school districts over mask mandates. This comes as Springfield Public Schools (SPS) considers having a special board meeting next Friday, January 28, to talk about temporarily bringing masks back to the classroom. The conversation began at a meeting earlier this week. OzarksFirst listened in.
SPS has already been threatened with a lawsuit if they were to enact another mandate, but some board members say safety is more important than legal fees. Dr. Charles Taylor shared his thoughts.
“I would strongly recommend that by board action we extend to the same expiration date on the masking mandate for employees and visitors to include students,” Dr. Taylor said. “I think it’s absolutely true that masking isn’t entirely enforceable, it’s not a silver bullet, but its beneficial impact is certainly not zero. I don’t know if we had the full masking mandate if we would have had the closure. I understand there are potentially legal implications to that, but at the end of the day, if I’m going to lose sleep, I would much rather over the potential of being sued again for implementing the mask mandate because we think it’s the right thing to do for a limited period of time, than I would leaving something on the table that could have materially had a beneficial impact on the health and well being of our students and staff.”
You may have noticed Dr. Taylor said “sued again.” That’s because in November of 2021, Schmitt sued SPS over concerns about critical race theory being taught in classrooms.
If SPS enacts another mask mandate, it would be for all students and staff from January 31 through February 18. Board member Danielle Kincaid says it would be the right move.
“Missouri State is masked, OTC is masked, Drury is masked, our county courthouse is masked and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department has recommended to us that our students also be masked,” Kincaid said. “This is not just something we can ignore and bury our heads in the sand.”
Not everyone on the board agrees with going back to masking, including Dr. Maryam Mohammadkhani.
“I think we would be exactly where we are whether the kids were masked or not masked,” Dr. Mohammadkhani said. “We’re seeing that with schools and communities that are masked or not masked, omicron is moving through.”
SPS superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan says if the school board votes to enact another mask mandate, she will follow their direction.