ST. LOUIS– Missouri’s Attorney General is not waiting for school districts to re-evaluate their masking policies after a Cole County judge ruled that public health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic are unconstitutional.
Eric Schmitt sent letters to school districts and public health agencies across Missouri saying they must rescind and stop enforcing public health orders like mask mandates and quarantines. Specifically, Schmitt contends that school officials don’t have the authority to enact or enforce health orders. He said if school districts and public health agencies don’t rescind the orders he may take legal action against them including potential lawsuits.
“What this provides is a reset for us at this point, to get back to a place where individuals and families and parents can make these decisions,” Schmitt said. “If they want to send their kid to school in a mask, they can do that. If they don’t want to send their kid to school, they do not have to do that. I mean, this is still America and I think people are tired of this.”
Wednesday, Schmitt announced he was specifically asking for parents to contact his office.
“We’ve heard from parents that school districts are continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders, in violation of the recent Cole County order,” Schmitt said in a news release. “To enable parents to voice their concerns freely about continued mask mandates and quarantine orders, and ensure that those concerns are heard and investigated properly, we have set up an email inbox, firstname.lastname@example.org, for parents to communicate directly with the Attorney General’s Office. Parents are sick and tired of the stonewalling from their school districts, and so am I.”
In a letter to parents Tuesday night, the Rockwood School district in suburban St. Louis, one of the largest districts in the state said its attorneys “continue to advise us that we have legal authority to establish rules and regulations regarding the safety of our students and staff. Therefore, at this time, there will be no change to our mitigation strategies that have served us well since the onset of the pandemic almost two years ago. Having said that, district leaders had already been consulting with health advisors, legal advisors, other area school leaders and the Board of Education over the past several weeks to consider possible adjustments to our mitigation strategies for the second semester.”
The district said it would share potential changes to COVID mitigation strategies with families next week.