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ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – A small contingent of students in the Rockwood School District walked on school grounds Thursday morning without a mask. Some of those students were eventually sent home for refusing to comply with the district’s mask policy.

Mary LaPak, Rockwood’s executive director of communications, said 20 students at Eureka High School came to campus this morning and refused to wear a face covering.

School administrators talked with the students about their concerns and explained the health protocols are in place for student and faculty safety. LaPak said the students were given an option to put a mask on and go to class, and some of those students complied. The students who refused were sent home and their parents were notified of the situation.

According to LaPak, groups of students at a handful of elementary schools—Eureka, Geggie, Uthoff, and Blevins—also came to class without masks. The remaining 15 schools in the district each had one or two students who refused to comply with the mask rule.

All told, more than 100 students across the district came to school without a mask, LaPak said. Nearly 21,000 students are enrolled in the district.

Earlier this week, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent letters to school districts and public health agencies across the state 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.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health said the mask mandate had been rescinded after the county council refused to approve a new mandate earlier in the week.