Two California parents’ groups have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and other state officials over a mask mandate in schools.
On Thursday, Reopen California Schools and Let Them Breathe filed the suit in San Diego County’s North County Division of the Superior Court of the State of California, naming Newsom, California Health and Human Services Secretary Mark Ghaly, Public Health Director Tomas Aragon, and Naomi Bardach (who leads Safe Schools for All) as defendants.
The groups seek “a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunction” that would restrain and prevent the defendants “from applying and enforcing the July 2021 guidance related to mandatory masking, quarantines and COVID-19 testing, and from issuing any new order, directive, guidance, rules or ‘framework’ aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19 that would inhibit learning, cause harm, and prevent any student from reasonably enjoying the benefits of full-time, in-person instruction,” a declaration that the governor’s order “is invalid and unlawful to the extent Defendants treat it as mandatory for all students and schools,” and other damages, including the cost of the suit.
“LTB believes that masking students is unnecessary, ineffective, and harmful to their mental, physical, social, and emotional wellbeing. LTB is concerned that masks prevent children from engaging in a quality in-person education,” the lawsuit reads.
Earlier this month, the California Department of Public Health released guidance that said the state’s schools would continue to enforce a mask requirement for all students, faculty, and teachers. The state’s guidance breaks from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance, which was updated days earlier, saying students and faculty who are fully vaccinated no longer had to wear masks while in school.
The CDPH said the possibility for bullying factored into the group’s decision.
“Detrimental effects of differential mask policies include: potential stigma, bullying, isolation of vaccinated OR unvaccinated students, depending on the culture and attitudes in the school or surrounding community,” the CDPH said in a July 12 press release.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also recently released guidance calling for the masking of all students regardless of vaccination status.
“It’s important to use every tool in our toolkit to safeguard children from COVID-19,” Sara Bode, the chairwoman-elect of the AAP Council on School Health Executive Committee, said in the group’s readout, which was released on Monday. “Universal masking is one of those tools and has been proven effective in protecting people against other respiratory diseases, as well. It’s also the most effective strategy to create consistent messages and expectations among students without the added burden of needing to monitor everyone’s vaccination status.”
Almost 4.09 million children have tested positive for COVID-19, representing 5,431 cases per 100,000 children, as of July 15, according to the AAP.
Californians can decide whether or not to oust Newsom in a Sept. 14 recall election.