Calif. judge denies restraining order request against school mask mandate

A California judge has denied a temporary restraining order request barring the state from enforcing its school mask mandate, which mask-choice advocates argue should be decided at the local level.

Let Them Breathe and Reopen California Schools sued the state of California in July, alleging that its school mask mandate is harmful to students and not rooted in science. On Thursday, San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland denied the groups’ request for a temporary restraining order preventing the state from enforcing the mandate.

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“We are pleased that the court agreed with our argument that blocking the continued implementation of the universal masking requirement for K-12 schools was unwarranted at this time,” Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office said in a statement provided to CBS 8.

“Our guidance is firmly grounded in science and has been a critical component of our efforts to support the safe return to in-person learning for all students this school year,” the statement continued. “Recent studies confirm that schools with universal masking requirements are much less likely to experience outbreaks, confirming that masking is a critical strategy to keep students safe and schools open.”

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The judge on Thursday also rejected the state’s request to delay the next hearing on the lawsuit until March, the advocacy groups said in a press release. A full hearing for a preliminary injunction is now scheduled for Nov. 8.

“We know each day students are suffering behind masks, and parents’ concerns are mounting,” Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe, said in the release. “However, we are thankful our legal team was able to minimize the State’s delay tactics and that the court set our hearing for November 8 instead of a date in March 2022, as suggested by the State. The State’s position confirms that it cares more about expanding its power than doing what is best for our children.”

Let Them Breathe also plans to legally challenge the state’s new student vaccination mandate, McKeeman said.

Reopen California Schools, which supported the recall effort against Newsom, told Fox News that it supports mask choice but believes mandates are harmful to students.

“While one of our arguments against the state is there should be more local control on these issues, we still believe all students and teachers should have mask choice and any locality enforcing mask mandates at school is ignoring the data and the harms of such policies,” the group said.

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