FULLERTON (KNX 1070) -- The Orange County School Board is set to sue Gov. Gavin Newsom over the state's mask mandate for children in K-12 public schools.
The board said the state's indoor mask mandate is harmful to children and claims there is no scientific basis for it. The board also charged the governor with exceeding his authority with the “unwarranted” mandate.
All staff and students at K-12 schools will be required to mask up when school opens this month regardless of vaccination status.
The board’s legal counsel said in a statement that the requirement that children wear a face covering is detrimental to their development. According to the OC Register, board members failed to present any evidence that face masks harm children at a Tuesday meeting. However, in a report, the board outlined its belief social distancing and masks are unnecessary.
“Because of the established link between social-distancing and child harm, we cannot support extraordinary efforts aimed at social-distancing at school,” the report said.
“Mandatory masks may well lead to a spike in childhood behavior problems such as learning disabilities, anxiety disorders, and depression to name a few.”
Orange County, like Los Angeles County, is currently seeing a surge in COVID-19 cases, causing others to argue that wearing masks at schools protects everyone.
Rita Burke is an assistant professor of clinical preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and an expert in public health responses to disasters. Burke acknowledged the toll that school closures have taken on children and families but said that’s all the more reasons to mask up.
“We have seen the dire impact of school closures on students and families, and we each need to do our part to ensure that everyone stays safe and healthy. That means getting a vaccine if you are eligible and wearing a mask indoors,” she said in a USC release.
Maintaining safety protocols will allow in-person teaching to continue, according to Burke.
“Schools have demonstrated that they are able to successfully stay open even when someone tests positive on campus. They adhere to the contact tracing and quarantine protocols in place that we know are effective,” she said.
This is not the first time the Orange County board has sued Newsom. Board members also sued the governor last year when he mandated online learning, according to the OC Register.
“We have made the decision to put the needs of our students first by filing this lawsuit,” the board’s majority said in a statement.
The California Supreme Court denied that lawsuit.