Families sue 2 Kansas school districts over mask mandates

Student Wearing Masks Mgn 1280x720 00716b00 Isocf

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — The families of 16 students sued two suburban Kansas City school districts, arguing their children should be allowed to attend school during the pandemic without wearing masks.

“The parents are terribly, terribly upset. There’s a groundswell of dissatisfaction,” said their attorney, Linus Baker.

The Kansas City Star reports that the lawsuit against the Blue Valley and Olathe school districts in Johnson County argues students should be granted individual exemptions to mask mandates. The parents contend masks are interfering with their children’s ability to learn.

Districts offer medical exemptions, generally for students with special needs or disabilities. They also relax mask rules for students during some sports and other activities. Two parents already have medical exemptions, but are suing to seek reimbursement for the costs to obtain them.

Both districts have fielded challenges since the Legislature passed a bill that empowers parents to fight COVID-19 restrictions. But their school boards have so far upheld their mask mandates.

District officials have argued that the mandates cannot be repealed under the new law because they were enacted last summer. The law requires individuals to contest them within 30 days.

The lawsuit, initially filed in state court, was moved to federal court this week. It alleges the districts violated the equal protection clause under the U.S. Constitution.