School mask mandate ban challenged in new Utah lawsuit

School mask mandate ban challenged in new Utah lawsuit


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A ban on school districts requiring masks is forcing parents of vulnerable kids to wrestle with the painful choice of whether to risk coronavirus infections at school or keep them at home yet again, according to a lawsuit filed Monday in Utah.

Parents like Jessica Pyper say a Utah state law that blocks districts from passing mandates wrongly prevents children from getting a safe education. She wants her 10-year-old son Ryker to join his 5th grade classmates this year, but his type-1 diabetes puts him at serious risk.

“It just sort of seems like nobody cares," she said.

The case is the latest U.S. lawsuit of its kind from families and educators concerned about school without masks as the highly contagious delta variant surges. Similar cases have been filed in states like Arizona, Texas and Florida, where thousands of students have already been sent home in rapidly spreading outbreaks.

The Centers for Disease Control guidelines call for universal masking in schools, but amid contentious anti-mask protests, several conservative leaning states are blocking mask mandates.

Officials, mostly Republican, contend that there are downsides to kids being masked all day and parents should have the power to decide whether to put them on children, who tend to be less vulnerable to the virus than older adults.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Attorney General Sean Reyes didn't immediately respond to email and text message requests for comment about the lawsuit.

Utah schools were open for in-person learning with a statewide mask mandate last year, but after that ended the GOP-dominated Legislature decided individual school districts couldn't require face coverings on their own.

Without masks and other protective steps, coronavirus infections could spread rapidly among...

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