EXCLUSIVE — Attorney General Eric Schmitt has sent cease and desist letters to 52 school districts, instructing them to halt COVID-19 mandates that may have been nullified by a recent court ruling.
The letters come on the heels of the attorney general’s request for parents’ help to identify schools with COVID-19 mandates still in place. Thus far, the office has received more than 7,500 emails — the majority of which are from parents concerned about mask and quarantine orders, the Attorney General’s Office said.
“Last week, I empowered parents to provide information about their child’s school district and if they’re continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders despite the recent Cole County ruling. Since then, we’ve received a tremendous response from parents who are fed up with school districts across the state continuing to force their children to wear a mask all day or quarantine when they’re perfectly healthy,” Schmitt said. “My office has worked diligently to identify non-compliant school districts and send cease and desist letters to those districts. We will continue to fight these mask mandates and quarantine orders and enforce the law.”
Last month, Cole County Judge Daniel Green said state’s health department regulations allowing Missouri’s health director and local health agencies to implement “control measures” were unconstitutional. The regulations allowed health directors to close schools or places of public assembly in the interest of protecting public health during the pandemic. The judge declared those orders void.
Soon thereafter, Schmitt said school officials do not have the authority to implement mask, quarantine, or other public health orders. In a letter to districts, Schmitt said local public health agencies had been instructed to halt their COVID-19 orders following the Cole County order and told districts to “stop relying on, enforcing, or publicizing any such orders immediately.”
However, Schmitt’s office wanted to make clear that the judge’s ruling does not impede local public health offices from still conducting COVID-19 tests or tracing.
“The Cole County Circuit Court ruling declares mask mandates, quarantine orders, and other public health orders null and void, but does not prohibit the gathering or reporting of COVID-19 data or information,” Chris Nuelle, a spokesman for the attorney general, told The Missouri Times.
The Attorney General’s Office said because of the letters sent, “a number of school districts have either already rescinded or plan to rescind their maks mandates [and] quarantine orders.”
Still, the Missouri School Boards’ Association (MSBA), in a recent email, said while the judge’s order impacted orders from local health departments, “a school district’s authority and obligation to prevent the spread of contagious diseases in schools has not been impacted.”
The email pointed to Missouri statutes that allow for school boards to implement health and safety regulations.
“MSBA encourages school boards to continue to maintain safe and healthy learning environments for students and staff by consulting advice issued by contagious disease experts such as the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services or the Centers for Disease Control,” the email said.
The school districts that have received letters from the attorney general are:
- Rockwood R-VI School District
- Columbia School District
- Platte County R-III School District
- Parkway C-2 School District
- Odessa R-VII School District
- Springfield R-XII School District
- Liberty School District
- North Kansas City Schools
- Kirkwood R-VII School District
- Sedalia School District
- Ritenour School District
- Kearney R-I School District
- Mehlville R-IX School District
- Fox C-6 School District
- Lee’s Summit R-VII School District
- Francis Howell R-III School District
- Hallsville R-III School District
- Southern Boone County R-I School District
- McDonald County R-I School District
- Valley Park School District
- Webster Groves School District
- Willard R-II School District
- Affton School District
- Clayton School District
- Smithville R-II School District
- Kansas City Public School District
- Lindbergh School District
- Harrisonville R-IX School District
- Lone Jack School District
- Brentwood School District
- Grain Valley R-V School District
- Fort Zumwalt School District
- Wentzville School District
- Warren County School District
- St. Charles R-VI School District
- Pattonville School District
- Webb City R-VII School District
- Bolivar R-I School District
- Franklin County R-II School District
- Marshall School District
- Dunklin R-V School District
- Rolla School District
- Hazelwood School District
- St. Joseph School District
- Park Hill School District
- St. Louis City School District
- Waynesville R-VI School District
- Ferguson-Florissant R-II School District
- Ladue School District
- Maplewood Richmond Heights School District
- Riverview Gardens School District
- Raytown C2
Kaitlyn Schallhorn was the editor in chief of The Missouri Times from 2020-2022. She joined the newspaper in early 2019 after working as a reporter for Fox News in New York City.
Throughout her career, Kaitlyn has covered political campaigns across the U.S., including the 2016 presidential election, and humanitarian aid efforts in Africa and the Middle East.
She is a native of Missouri who studied journalism at Winthrop University in South Carolina. She is also an alumna of the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C.
Contact Kaitlyn at firstname.lastname@example.org.