ST. LOUIS – After suing to stop the mask mandate in St. Louis County, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is taking aim at public schools. He’s filed a new class-action suit saying masks do not stop the spread of the coronavirus among children.
“This doesn’t ban masks,” said Schmitt, a Republican, who is also a candidate for the United States Senate. “This is about returning that decision-making power to families.”
The suit says mask mandates for kids “are not supported by science.” It says that kids in masks report “impaired learning” and that mask-wearing is “detrimental to communication skills” at a key point in child development. It also alleges that children generally “do not spread the virus … even in school settings.”
“There have been zero deaths (from COVID-19 in Missouri) under the age of ten. There have been five under the age of 18. That’s a very, very, low risk,” he said.
He also pointed out that under new state law, school boards have to vote on whether to extend mask mandates every 30 days.
He added that districts have mask mandates in place where local governments had already voted them down from St. Louis County to Columbia.
“I have not quite seen anything like this. You’ve seen people showing up at city council meetings, at county council meetings, at school board meetings,” Schmitt said.
“People are able to weigh these risks themselves. We’re going to be living with the Coronavirus for a while. It’s not going away next week.”
Parents picking up their kids from McCluer North High School, Tuesday, did not approve of Schmitt’s attempt to stop mask mandates in schools.
“I think it’s horrible. They should definitely be wearing masks right now,” said Adrienne Harris, a mother.
“I think they should definitely be wearing masks right now,” said Misha Hubbard, a mother.
The Ferguson-Florissant School District, which includes McCluer North, issued the following statement:
“Universal masking is part of our mitigation plan to help keep our schools and school community safe. Masks offer an added layer of protection in providing a safe learning environment for students and staff. Our goal is to keep students in school five days a week safely. This measure increases the safety of our entire school community.”
A similar suit led to a court injunction against the St. Louis County mask mandate.
Schmitt is asking a judge to extend his suit filed in Boone County against Columbia, Missouri, schools to all districts in the state.
Only about 10%, nearly 50 districts total, had mask mandates, he said.
“St. Louis City which has a mask requirement, their cases are up 11%. St. Louis County, we’ve been successful in beating back that mask requirement, their cases are down 18%. If you follow the facts and follow the science, I think people can make their own decisions,” Schmitt said.
“It certainly doesn’t justify the government forcing masks for five-year-olds.”
He expects a Boone County judge to take up the case next month.