No ‘rational purpose’: Florida parents suing school district over mask mandate

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A group of Florida parents has filed suit against the Hillsborough County School Board over its mandatory mask policy, claiming they serve no “rational purpose” to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The board “has instituted a policy of required face mask wear for students in order to attend school that serves no legitimate or rational purpose when actually analyzed through the prism of actual science with respect to COVID 19 and the harm to the students that will be incurred if such a policy of required long term face mask wear is implemented,” said the complaint, as reported by Law & Crime.

“In fact, it is a policy instituted not based on reliable data or science, but on irrational fear. Such policy is not in a minor child’s best interest, but actually serves to harm a child’s well-being,” it added.

Schools around the country are struggling with reopening amid the lingering COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the pushback has come from teachers and teacher’s unions in the form of overly dramatic tactics such as sending ‘obituaries’ to governors and school board officials.

Studies regarding the effectiveness of mask-wearing vary. One study noted by former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson, who has been tracking exaggerated reporting regarding the pandemic, noted in a Twitter post on Monday that a Danish study suggesting masks don’t do much to stem the spread of the virus has yet to be published.

He also noted, “the study’s lead author said last month (presumably after seeing the data) that he hoped Denmark wouldn’t impose a mask mandate.”

As for the Hillsborough suit, school board officials say the mandate is in line with the federal government’s guidelines.

“The school district’s mandate to require face coverings for all staff, students and visitors on our school campuses is based on guidance from the CDC, the local department of health and other medical experts.” Hillsborough County Schools spokeswoman Tanya Arja told WTSP in a statement.

“The experts agree that face coverings are one of the most effective means for preventing the spread of COVID-19. We are sensitive to the unique challenges with requiring face coverings in a school setting but we believe it is one of the most important strategies we have to provide an additional layer of protection for everyone on our campuses,” she continued.

“There are reasonable exemptions built into the mandate and we will work with families based on their individual needs. Although we have not yet been served with the lawsuit, we are reviewing the complaint and will defend the district’s position.”

The complaint, filed by attorney Patrick Leduc, says the mask mandate violates the state’s constitution because it required parents to make the choice of “subjecting their children to a policy that is not in the best interest of the child, or to be compelled to home school their children in a manner that is both separate and unequal.”

In addition, the complaint argues that a long-term mask mandate will harm children physically and psychologically.

The suit also names Superintendent Addison Davis, claiming his July mask directive was improperly issued because there was no public hearing or comment period, as required by Florida statutes.

Davis “is not a dictator, where he may pass policy by fiat,” the complaint states.

Hillsborough schools are slated to reopen for a week of e-learning on August 24. They are scheduled to re-open to in-person instruction for parents who selected that option a week later.

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Jon Dougherty

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