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COLUMBIA, Mo. — Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a class action lawsuit against school districts who have mask mandates in place for students and staff.

“Forcing schoolchildren to mask all day in school flies in the face of science, especially given children’s low risk of severe illness and death and their low risk of transmission. Additionally, forcing schoolchildren to mask all day could hinder critical development by eliminating facial cues and expressions,” Schmitt said.

The defendants in the lawsuit are Columbia Public Schools, the Board of Education for the School District of Columbia, their board members and superintendent.

But because this is a class action lawsuit, judgments could apply to other Missouri public school districts with mask mandates as well.

The lawsuit argues that mask mandates for students are arbitrary, capricious and unlawful.

“We filed this suit today because we fundamentally don’t believe in forced masking, rather that parents and families should have the power to make decisions on masks, based on science and facts,” Schmitt said. “I am committed to fighting back against this kind of government overreach. Americans are free people, not subjects.”

Schmitt has already filed lawsuits against mask mandates in St. Louis and Jackson counties, as well as Kansas City and St. Louis city.