SAN DIEGO — The founder of Let Them Breathe, a local group advocating for mask choice, is speaking out after a San Diego County judge Friday dismissed a lawsuit against Gov. Gavin Newsom and state public health officials challenging California’s K-12 mask mandate.
Masks will continue to stay on inside the classroom after Judge Cynthia Freeland held that the state has a “compelling interest in preventing the spread of COVID-19” and that Newsom has the legal authority to require masks in schools.
“We are disappointed that the state hid behind the emergency order instead of being willing to actually argue the science in court,” said Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe.
The group, along with Reopen California Schools, filed suit in July to overturn the mandate and to challenge COVID testing policies in schools, arguing that mask-wearing is harmful to children and instead should be optional.
McKeeman says while she is disappointed on the ruling, she is happy the judge clarified some state guidelines.
“The judge very clearly detailed that there is no language in the state guidance that directs, requires or authorizes schools to force students into independent study if they unmask,” she said.
Let Them Breathe challenged the state over their COVID guidelines, but the judge dismissed it due to them being recommendations and not requirements.
“She said we couldn’t sue over the testing and quarantine guidance, because those are recommendations and that is something we wanted clarified, because we know they are,” McKeeman said. “But there has been this de facto mandate where schools have been passing the buck to the state. It’s up to them to come up with common sense protocols that keeps our kids, healthy kids stay in the classroom.”
Although the judge dismissed the lawsuit, McKeeman says Let Them Breathe is still moving forward with legal action.
“Let Them Breathe has said all along that we will not give up until our kids’ smiles are restored,” she said. “Our legal team is hard at work, even this weekend, figuring out what those next steps will be and we will be continuing with legal strategy.”