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School Mask Mandates?

School is about to start up again, and parents across the country are analyzing the reintroduction of mask mandates for all children, staff, and visitors to campuses. Opinions are divided and opposition to local rules are popping up all over the country.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) issued a statewide ban against mask mandates for school districts.

In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) banned schools from requiring students from wearing masks. A Dallas County judge filed a legal challenge to the ban, and another judge issued a temporary restraining order. The case is set to appear in court soon and is expected to be expedited to the Texas Supreme Court.

The superintendent for the Houston Independent School District said he planned to impose a mask mandate for all students, staff, and visitors on school property. This includes buses. This order was unanimously supported by the school board. Other large Texas cities have imposed similar orders, including Dallas and Austin.

Governor Abbott has repeatedly said that he supports individuals’ choices to wear a mask or not. He said the decision should be left up to parents, like other decisions regarding their children. His office supports administering the Covid-19 vaccine to all eligible citizens.

Meanwhile in Nevada, two parents have filed a class-action lawsuit against Governor Steve Sisolak (D), state Attorney General Aaron Ford, and the Clark County School District (CCSD). Las Vegas, and the bulk of the state’s population, lie within the CCSD. More than 300,000 students and 18,000 teachers make CCSD the nation’s fifth-largest school district.

The lawsuit seeks to immediately invalidate Governor Sisolak’s recent order that all K-12 students and staff wear masks for the upcoming school year. The complaint alleges that “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been ripped away from law-abiding citizens and their children.”

On the same day the Nevada lawsuit was filed, Oklahoma saw an opposite lawsuit. Some parents joined forces with the Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) to file a lawsuit seeking to overturn their state’s ban on mask mandates.

“This is not a political stance; it is about public health and common sense,” said OSMA President Dr. Mary Clark in a statement. “If schools can send students home for a lice infection, they should have the latitude and ability to issue a mask mandate.”

Covid-19 and head lice are pretty far apart on the spectrum of medical emergencies. Comparing the two is an odd tactic, but the parents and OSMA nonetheless want the ability to require masks as part of their back to school plan.

“The science stands firmly behind vaccinations and masking as important tools in stopping the spread of Covid-19. We must do everything we can to keep Oklahoma’s children safe,” wrote Dr. Clarke.

41.1% of Oklahomans are fully vaccinated against the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19. The national average is 49.9%.

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