Parents in one state can now tattle on schools that are mandating masks

One state's attorney general says a recent court ruling made mandates illegal, but schools disagree.
By: | December 9, 2021
(AdobeStock)(AdobeStock)

Parents in Missouri are now being encouraged to report school districts that are maintaining mask mandates, quarantines and other COVID-prevention policies to state authorities.

It’s the latest development in a legal dispute in which Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt says a November court ruling prohibits mask requirements and related measures. School leaders, however, doubt the state’s authority to make such orders.

On Wednesday, Schmitt set up an e-mail address, illegalmandates@ago.mo.gov, that lets parents essentially snitch on school administrators for enforcing COVID protections. “Parents are encouraged to email that address with their concerns, photos, videos, documents and other supporting information, and a representative from the Attorney General’s Office will review those concerns and documentation and investigate further wherever possible,” Schmitt said in a press release.

Leaders of the state’s largest district, Springfield Public Schools, responded by announcing their mask mandate would remain in place until January. The district’s attorneys will try to determine whether the circuit court ruling applies to public schools.

“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,” Springfield administrators said. “Our intention remains unchanged.”

Leaders of the Francis Howell School District said their legal counsel “advised that this court ruling does not impact the ability for school boards to put mitigation measures in place that apply to district operations, including masking and exclusions from school.”

The district’s school board will review the mask mandate at its next meeting on Dec. 16.

Earlier this week, Schmitt told districts and local health authorities that a Nov. 22 ruling by a county circuit court judge prohibits mask mandates, quarantine orders or any other public health orders. “Public health authorities and school districts have gone unchecked, issuing illegal and unconstitutional orders in their quest to aggregate, maintain, and exert their new-found power,” Schmitt said on Tuesday.