Group asks San Diego County judge to halt Calif. school mask mandate

Coronavirus

VISTA, Calif. – An advocacy group representing California parents who are against mask mandates in schools was in a North County courtroom Monday asking a judge to stop the state from enforcing that mandate.

The group, Let Them Breathe, has been fighting the state’s mask requirements from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. San Diego County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland set aside much of the afternoon to hear arguments from both sides in the suit filed against Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state’s Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, among other state public health officials.

No decision was rendered in court on Monday.

The leaders of Let Them Breathe, which claims to be made up of 30,000 parents, provided the court reports from medical experts and parents who submitted written declarations stating why they believe forcing kids to wear masks in class is unnecessary, ineffective and potentially harmful.

Representatives from the state are asking the judge to dismiss the case.

Sharon McKeeman, who founded the parent group, said she’s confident Freeland will side with them and offer statewide mask choice for students and parents in school.

“We know that we’ve heard from so many school districts that they want to offer mask choice,” McKeeman said. “They feel at this point that this is total overreach on the state’s part. I know many, many school districts and private schools would be so relieved to get a favorable ruling because they would be able to immediately implement mask choice for the kiddos.”

Masks are required to be worn in California on public transit, health care settings and in K-12 schools as well as in indoor public places by unvaccinated people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends universal indoor masking by all students ages 2 and older, staff, teachers and visitors as a measure to reduce transmission risk.

But Let Them Breathe representatives say there’s “overwhelming evidence” that shows children are at a low risk of getting COVID-19, becoming seriously sick or transmitting the virus to others.

Freeland indicated that she wants to hear oral testimony as a large portion of Monday’s hearing was about reading declarations submitted to the court.

The next step will be a readiness hearing at a date still to be determined.

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