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Attorney General files lawsuit against CPS over temporary mask mandate

KMIZ ABC 17 News
KMIZ ABC 17 News
 2022-01-21
Attorney General Eric Schmitt says school mask rules are ineffective against coronavirus during an interview on Jan. 18, 2022.
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COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

The Missouri Attorney General's Office has filed another lawsuit against Columbia Public Schools over the district's renewed, temporary mask mandate.

According to court documents, AG Eric Schmitt argues school districts don't have the power to impose public health orders for their students.

The Columbia Board of Education approved a temporary mask mandate through Feb. 4 at its meeting on Thursday morning. Superintendent Brian Yearwood can extend the order through Feb. 18 if necessary.

The Missouri Attorney General's Office also filed lawsuits on Friday against the Park Hill and Fort Zummwalt School Districts.

Schmitt lawsuit against CPS Download

Yearwood renewed CPS's mask mandate when students returned to class last week, citing a sharp rise in cases among students and staff from the highly contagious omicron coronavirus variant. The district said the virus is sickening students and stretching staff thin, and the mandate was needed to keep the doors open.

However, students are out of class Friday, Monday and Tuesday because of the strain caused by the virus. CPS had 217 students positive for coronavirus Friday morning and 69 staff members . The substitute fill rate for this week is about 56%. Teachers have had to cover colleagues' classes because of the rampant illness, district leaders say.

Schmitt's suit names three CPS parents as plaintiffs, claiming they want to protect their children from the mask mandate.

Schmitt also sued CPS for its mask mandate last year, and the Columbia Board of Education ended that mandate in December, before the omicron surge that pushed new cases and hospitalizations to record levels statewide. That lawsuit was subsequently dropped.

Check back for updates to this developing story.

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