2 lawsuits claim kids got COVID because schools did not mandate masks

Parents' of backers plan wave of legal challenges against districts over COVID-19 precautions
By: | October 12, 2021

Anti-maskers have dominated the news this fall but frustrated parents are now suing districts claiming children got infected because face coverings were not required.

A mother accused her school of “hosting daily super spreader events,” after her child contracted COVID and missed two weeks of school, according to the class-action lawsuit filed Monday by Gina Kildahl against the School District of Fall Creek, its school board and superintendent.

The lawsuit, which has been posted online by WQOW.com, claims two of her child’s classmates attended Fall Creek Elementary School while infected and were not wearing masks. “By bringing students back to class around unmasked staff, reinstituting extracurricular activities, and allowing potentially contagious visitors and volunteers into the school without masks, FCSD and the board threw students into a COVID-19 ‘snake pit,'” the lawsuit says.

Last week, the same attorney who is representing Kildahl filed a similar class-action lawsuit against the School District of Waukesha, its superintendent and the members of its board of education. Shannon Jensen believes her child was infected when a symptomatic classmate attended school without a mask, according to the suit, which has been posted online by WPR.org. The sick classmate went to the school nurse twice before being sent home, the suit claims.

Jensen’s child, who missed six days of school, was quarantined in the family’s basement so as not to infect siblings, says the lawsuit, which repeated the “snake pit” allegation.

Both suits are seeking injunctions against the district that would force the schools to take more aggressive safety precautions.

The two lawsuits also share the same financial backer, a donor-funded super PAC created by a craft beer maker, the Minocqua Brewing Company, whose owner has been a vocal critic of former President Donald Trump.

The super PAC’s goal is to expand the class-action suits to any districts that aren’t requiring masks while students between ages 5 and 12 are ineligible for vaccines, Minocqua owner Kirk Bangstad has written on Facebook.

The brewery—which sells beers honoring President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, Democrat Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Bernie Sanders and Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, is donating 5% of its profits from beer and merchandise sales to the legal challenges.

“So you have two choices: You can either sit tight and hope our lawsuits ultimately scoop up your districts, or you can find your own lawyer and sue them yourselves and hopefully get quicker justice for your kids,” the brewery said on its website.

On the other side of the COVID divide, a new parents group called Let Them Choose has sued San Diego USD in California over its vaccine mandate for eligible students. Let Them Choose is part of an anti-mask organization called Let Them Breathe.

“SDUSD’s mandate conflicts with state law, which does not permit local school boards to promulgate new vaccination requirements in addition to those already required by state law,” the group claims.

The lawsuit says the mandate will unfairly deny access to education to students who choose not to get vaccinated and that the potential side effects outweigh the benefits because kids are at lower risk from COVID.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has said the state will add the COVID vaccine to the state’s list of required school immunizations when it one is fully authorized by the FDA for students.