The War Against Masks
Over the past year, Springfield Public Schools has come under fire multiple times, with the gunman being Attorney General Eric Schmitt. Schmitt is in charge of all legal orders and aspects regarding the state of Missouri.
In November, the Republican official sued SPS for not complying with his request to view all curriculum, in search for signs of Critical Race Theory teachings. Now, the school district is refusing another one of his orders: an order to stop mandating masks in Springfield schools as well as any COVID-19 procedures.
“State law does not delegate authority to school officials to issue mask mandates, quarantine orders, or other public health orders,” Schmitt’s statement reads. “Your school district should stop enforcing and publicizing any such orders immediately.”
However, Springfield Public Schools did not do this. In fact, instead of immediately doing away with the mask mandate, they sent out a message to all staff and parents to do just the opposite.
“Springfield Public Schools’ mask mandate will remain in place through January, the district said Wednesday evening, after Missouri’s attorney general ordered schools to repeal their masking policies for students,” The Springfield News Leader reported, two days after Schmitt’s order.
The school district has also stated that a legal team will be reviewing if his order can even apply to public schools in the first place. This review will take place over a 30 day period, according to the Springfield News Leader.
“The district is also disputing Schmitt’s argument, calling his letter “an interpretation” of the court’s decision and pointing to a 30-day period before the decision is final,” the newspaper said.
Parents across Springfield are furious about this. Some are so mad that they contacted Schmitt himself, via an email he set up for such complaints.
“I sent all of my kids to school (three different schools) without them. One has been to the office three times for refusing to put it on. They even went to the extent of locking him out of his classroom,” one parent said.
“On another note they said when we went and met with the deputy superintendent that if we don’t pick our kids up from school if they aren’t wearing them that they will call DFS on us for Neglect!” the parent went on to describe.
In light of this email and many others, the Attorney General contacted superintendent Dr. Grenita Lathan about the district’s refusal to comply with his order.
“I hereby demand that you immediately cease and desist enforcement of any and all mandates, written and verbal, imposing student masking requirements, forced or coerced vaccinations, quarantines or other “health orders” that in any way inhibit or prohibit a student from exercising their right to a free and open education as guaranteed by the Missouri Constitution,” the letter reads.
This letter was sent on December 8th, and the school district has not budged on their policy. Students have gotten written up for not wearing a mask, and others have been given a dress code violation.
When the order was first issued, many students arrived at school not wearing a mask.
“I thought, ‘oh great I can go into school tomorrow without a mask because a government official made an order that lets me do so,” senior Brooke Turner said. “I didn’t think that an SPS official was above or could take that away from the government, and take the freedom of the students away.”
Many are watching to see how the attorney general will respond to SPS’s refusal to comply. As we move forward in this uncertain future, it will be necessary for all to stay informed about what is happening in our school district, our city, and our state.