Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a class-action lawsuit on Tuesday against the Columbia Public Schools District for implementing a mask mandate.

In the lawsuit, Schmitt lists the Superintendent for Columbia Public Schools, the Board of Education for the School District of Columbia and its board members, and Columbia Public Schools as defendants. The state attorney general is suing them for enforcing a mask mandate in schools for the 2021-2022 academic year.

“Forcing schoolchildren to mask all day in school flies in the face of science, especially given children’s low risk of severe illness and death and their low risk of transmission,” Schmitt said in a statement. “Additionally, forcing schoolchildren to mask all day could hinder critical development by eliminating facial cues and expressions.

“We filed this suit today because we fundamentally don’t believe in forced masking, rather that parents and families should have the power to make decisions on masks, based on science and facts. I am committed to fighting back against this kind of government overreach. Americans are free people, not subjects.”

The lawsuit “argues that the imposition of a mask mandate on schoolchildren is arbitrary and capricious, that the mask mandate is subject to § 67.265 … and expires without Board of Education authorizations,” in addition to it being “unlawful as to schoolchildren.”

In the lawsuit, multiple studies are cited regarding the “minor role” that children play in spreading COVID-19, “that there is very little evidence that the virus is transmitted in schools,” that universal masking has, “at best, a marginal impact on the spread of COVID-19,” and that masking causes impairments in schoolchildren.

Schmitt also noted in the lawsuit that the Columbia City Council rejected a citywide mask mandate, contrary to the mask mandate imposed by Columbia school districts.

The Missouri attorney general has also sued Jackson County, Kansas City, and St. Louis County and City for implementing mask mandates.

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