masks in Liberty Public Schools

The Liberty school district went back to masks per the Kansas City ordinance that was approved a few days into 2022. Like Liberty, North Kansas City Schools also returned to wearing masks earlier this month following Kansas City's City Council new mask requirement for all schools serving those in grades K through 12.

Attorney General Eric Schmitt on Monday, Jan. 24, announced nine more lawsuits against Missouri school districts with masking rules, with the majority targeting districts in the St. Louis area of the state.

Last week, Schmitt and 76 parents, took aim at districts across the state requiring masks and filed suit against 36 districts including Liberty, North Kansas City and Park Hill in the Northland. The state’s AG has yet to file a lawsuit against charter schools with masking rules.

“Mask mandates in schools are illegal. They simply don’t work and they contribute to alarming and negative psychological impacts on our children. My office has been on the frontlines of the fight to end the forced masking of children all day in school, and today we took concrete legal action toward that end,” said Schmitt, a Republican seeking a U.S. senate seat. “Parents and families, not bureaucrats, should have the power to decide what’s best for their children. With this litigation, we’re seeking to return that power back to parents and families, where it belongs.”

In Liberty Public Schools’ Return to Learn Plan addendum, the requirement of wearing masks in schools was brought back Jan. 10. According to the new policy, masks are required on all individuals over the age of 2 while in any district facility.

“Liberty Public Schools will continue with our current Return to Learn COVID-19 protocols in place until further notice. We will be working closely with our legal counsel to navigate the matter,” Liberty district spokesman Dallas Ackerman said. “In addition, we are closely monitoring COVID-19 positive cases, student attendance rates and staffing levels, and we will be committed to sharing any important information with you in a timely manner, if necessary. Our primary focus at this time is doing all we can to provide in-person learning, in healthy environments, for our students. We continue to be extremely grateful to our entire LPS staff for going above and beyond to meet the needs of our students and families during this challenging time.”

The Liberty school district went back to masks per the Kansas City ordinance that was approved a few days into 2022. Like Liberty, North Kansas City Schools also returned to wearing masks earlier this month following Kansas City City Council’s new mask requirement for all schools serving those in grades K through 12. The city requirement took effect Jan. 10 and is set to expire Thursday, Feb. 3.

“Throughout the past 22 months, NKC Schools has consistently followed established board policy to align our COVID-19 protocols with local guidance, including the use of masks,” states the guidelines from the NKC district.

Due to a federal mandate that remains in place until March 18, masks are still required on school buses in all school districts.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the leader of the Missouri School Boards’ Association has been asking for a meeting with the AG, but his spokesman Chris Nuelle indicated Schmitt would not meet with the organization.

“The Attorney General doesn’t represent the MSBA; he represents the people of Missouri,” the Post-Dispatch reports Nuelle said.

MSBA Executive Director Melissa Randol said earlier this week schools are focused on staying open through the pandemic. However, she added more than 60 districts have closed for at least one day this month as a “direct result of the number of staff, particularly teachers, who have been sick with COVID.”

According to the AG’s suits, Schmitt argues school districts don’t have the authority to impose public health orders like mask mandates. Schmitt said a November Cole County Circuit Court ruling, being appealed by St. Louis and Jackson counties, prevents school districts from enforcing public health orders. Schmitt set up an email box through his office in December and received 11,000 messages and photographs from people witnessing mask requirements in effect in public schools.

The lawsuits come as public school districts across the state had trouble last week holding classes due to the high number of students, teachers and staff with COVID-19.

The Park Hill district will close schools Thursday and Friday, Jan. 27 and 28, as COVID-19 outbreaks have caused a significant staffing shortage.

“As this situation continues, we cannot sustain the current pace throughout the whole week, with more and more staff falling ill,” the district announced in a letter to families on Tuesday, Jan. 25. “We will not have enough staff to properly supervise students during the school day by the end of this week.”During the shut down, online classes will not be available.

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