JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt asked parents to report school districts enforcing mask mandates Wednesday. Now he is sharing the notes from parents and the letters to school administrators to social media. Several districts say that they are not changing their policy despite the notice.
Schmitt is warning school districts and local public health departments that he will take legal action if they do not stop enforcing COVID-19 related health orders such as mask mandates and quarantine rules.
In letters sent Tuesday, Schmitt cited a Cole County judge’s ruling last month that said health orders issued by local authorities under state health regulations were “null and void.”
Schmitt also said his office has advised local public health authorities and school districts to stop enforcing or publicizing any COVID-19 health orders immediately because state law doesn’t give them the authority to issue such orders.
A Facebook post from the attorney general posted Wednesday evening says, “A parent from the Springfield Public School District sent us an email documenting two principals continuing to enforce ordinances even after the Cole County decision. We sent the Superintendent the below letter this afternoon.”
A portion of the letter says, “My office has received a complaint from a parent whose child is a student in your school district alleging that school officials are in active non-compliance with a judgment of a Missouri court regarding mandates determined to be unlawful and invalid under the Missouri Constitution and under state statute.”
The Springfield Public School District says that it will keep a mask mandate despite the warning from Missouri’s attorney general. A statement from the school district says:
“On numerous occasions, SPS has publicly stated our intent to remove the district’s current masking requirement in January – once our youngest students have had an opportunity to be fully vaccinated. Our intention remains unchanged.”
“Springfield Public, for example, they don’t have the ability to issue their own mask mandate,” Schmitt tells KY3-TV. “And they’ve gone well beyond that.”
The Springfield School District says that their interpretation of the ruling says that there is a 30-day period before this decision becomes final. They also say there is a disagreement about if the Cole County decision applies to public schools.
Schmitt also sent a letter to the Francis Howell School District. A portion of the statement posted to the homepage of FHSDSchools.org says, “At this time, the Francis Howell School District and all of its school buildings will operate under the Board-approved mask and mitigation measures currently in place. The Board will consider changes to these measures at their next regularly scheduled Board meeting on Dec. 16. Until then, there are no changes to masking and school exclusion protocols in FHSD.”