Mo. Attorney General tells school districts and local health departments they can’t enforce mask mandates or quarantine orders

Published: Dec. 7, 2021 at 6:46 PM CST
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KY3) - Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt sent letters statewide on Tuesday to school districts and local health departments warning them that they faced legal action if they tried to put in place public health orders like mask mandates or quarantines.

Schmitt said that the letters were sent because of a ruling last month in a Cole County Circuit Court in the case of Robinson vs. the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.

“The recent decision from the Cole County Circuit Court is consequential as it relates to public health orders,” Schmitt said in a news release. “Today I sent a letter to public health agencies and school districts across the state informing them of the decision and demanding they rescind and cease enforcement and publicizing of public health orders, mask mandates, quarantine orders, or other orders that were declared null and void by the recent decision. Public health authorities and school districts have gone unchecked, issuing illegal and unconstitutional orders in their quest to aggregate, maintain, and exert their new-found power. My Office will enforce the Court’s order across the state.”

Later in the day during an interview with KY3 Schmitt was asked to elaborate on the ramifications of the ruling.

“It means the health orders that are out there from these local public health bureaucrats are null and void,” he said. “The legislature has delegated to the state department but not the locals and therefore their (orders) are illegal. We also sent a letter to the school districts because the legislature has never delegated the ability to issue health orders, essentially mask mandates, to school districts either.”

Schmitt also said the ruling applied to a school district’s ability to send students home to be quarantined if they become ill.

“The ability to issue a health order related to a quarantine has never been delegated to a school district,” he said.

Springfield Public Schools, the state’s largest district, still has a mask mandate which may be lifted in early January. But with mandates and quarantine orders by schools and local health departments being ruled illegal, what does Schmitt believe the alternative should be?

“Parents and families now get to make these important decisions,” he replied. “Whether it’s about masking or kids staying at home. This gets us back to a place where we’ve always been. What’s unique now is you’ve got these unelected bureaucrats who’ve taken so much power that just a couple of years ago would have been unimaginable. And they’re never going to let it go. That’s why we’re fighting back.”

Schmitt has filed numerous lawsuits against everyone from the Biden Administration to China since announcing he was running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Roy Blunt.

Asked how many lawsuits he currently has ongoing?

“Dozens and dozens and dozens,” he answered. “And by the way, that’s not going to stop.”

And to the people who think those lawsuits are all politically motivated?

“That’s not true,” Schmitt said. “My job as Attorney General from day one has been to protect the constitutional rights of Missourians and I’ve been doing that since I was sworn-in. The fact is what we’re seeing right now is very aggressive egregious overreach at the federal level, whether it’s these vaccine mandates, or at the local level with mask mandates.”

Schmitt already has a lawsuit against the Springfield Public Schools over what he calls a lack of transparency concerning whether or not the district is teaching Critical Race Theory.

“When you see Springfield Public Schools hiding information about Critical Race Theory from parents it’s very concerning,” he said.

SPS officials are disputing Schmitt’s claims.

“What we expect is that when you weigh-in on an issue that you speak the truth,” said SPS Chief Communications Officer Stephen Hall when the lawsuit was announced. “From power truth should come. That is not occurring in this situation.”

KY3 contacted both SPS and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department for comment concerning Schmitt’s letters to them but neither group responded on Tuesday.

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