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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed lawsuits against six St. Louis-area school districts for reimplementing their mask mandates.

Schmitt announced on Thursday that he is suing the Clayton, Webster Groves, Mehlville, Maplewood, and Ladue school districts as well as the Special School District of St. Louis.

“School districts do not have the authority to impose, at their whim, public health orders for their schoolchildren,” the lawsuits state.

The attorney general previously sued several school districts across the state over masking requirements, all of which dropped their mandates. Some schools have reimposed the rules due to rising COVID-19 cases.

“It is truly unbelievable that schools, without any authority whatsoever, are making the decision to reimpose mask mandates on school-age children, a decision that flies in the face of science, data, and common sense,” Schmitt said in a statement. “My Office will not back down in our fight against mask mandates and will work to return power back to where it belongs: in the hands of parents.”

St. Louis County Executive Dr. Sam Page addressed the area’s recent spike during a press conference on Monday. Page said the number of COVID cases is steadily rising and health experts are raising a caution flag.

The most recent COVID case count showed St. Louis County averaging 273 new cases daily. That is a 30 percent increase from the same number just one week earlier. That increase caused St. Louis County to move up in the CDC’s measurement of community risk for COVID from low to medium risk.

However, so far the rise in cases has not corresponded to a rise in the number of people hospitalized with COVID. Officials are carefully monitoring COVID hospitalizations because, in the past, as cases have increased hospitalizations have also increased. The latest data means residents’ risk of contracting COVID is higher than it was a week ago and substantially higher than it was a month ago.