MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A group of Minnesota parents has filed a lawsuit against the state and Gov. Tim Walz, seeking a statewide school mask mandate.
The group, Parents Advocating for Safe Schools (PASS), consists of parents in school districts that aren’t requiring masks this year. Their argument stems from the state constitution’s provision that the state must provide students an “adequate” education.
The parents say that includes schools having to be safe, and without masks, they say schools aren’t safe.
READ MORE: Minnesota School District Mask Policies
Marshall Tanick is an attorney representing PASS.
“Many of them are healthcare professionals, including a number of medical doctors, and they feel that not having a facial masking policy in schools exposes their children, and others as well, and not just students — faculty, teachers, administrators, visitors — to the hazards of COVID,” Tanick said.
The lawsuit was filed in Ramsey County District Court Friday. It asks the court to direct Walz to declare a peacetime emergency and issue an executive order for a statewide school mask mandate. Tanick says the court could also order Walz to at least declare the mandate in public schools.
“Go back to the famous Brown versus Board of Education case,” he said. “The courts were telling governors and legislatures that they have to take certain action, in that case desegregate schools in order to comply with the Constitution.”
A spokesperson for Walz said Sunday the governor’s office is reviewing the complaint. He also said the governor would need the legislature’s help to implement a statewide mask mandate.
“This case is a clarion call to school districts to take the appropriate action themselves,” Tanick said. “There’s nothing that prevents the school districts from making this decision.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal masking in schools.
Six of Minnesota’s seven largest districts will require masks for everyone. Anoka-Hennepin, the largest, will require face coverings for students K-6.
PASS points to what happened in Albert Lea as evidence that schools without mask mandates are unsafe. In the first week of classes, 36 students tested positive and nearly 300 had to quarantine. The district has since required masks for grades 6-12.
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