JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — One day after sending letters to health departments and public school districts across the state about a recent ruling on local health orders, Missouri’s attorney general is appealing to parents.
Eric Schmitt wants families to report schools that he says are violating the ruling by continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders.
Schmitt sent letters Tuesday with details about last month’s ruling. Cole County Circuit Judge Daniel Green ruled that health orders issued by local health authorities in Missouri are illegal and should be lifted. He said the orders violate the Missouri Constitution’s separation of powers clause affecting the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government.
Green ordered all existing health orders issued by local health officials are “null and void.”
Schmitt’s letter to health departments and schools demands 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.”
The state attorney general said he plans to enforce the order across the state.
On Wednesday, Schmitt took his actions a step further, asking families to report schools that are violating the ruling – and submit evidence to prove it.
“We’ve heard from parents that school districts are continuing to enforce mask mandates and quarantine orders, in violation of the recent Cole County order,” Schmitt said in a news release.
His office set up an email that parents are encouraged to use to send their concerns, photos and videos: firstname.lastname@example.org
“A representative from the Attorney General’s Office will review those concerns and documentation and investigate further wherever possible,” the news release states.
Interim Rockwood Superintendent Tim Ricker said Tuesday in a letter to parents that the school district is not changing its mask rules.
“Our attorneys continue to advise us that we have legal authority to establish rules and regulations regarding the safety of our students and staff," the letter said.
On Wednesday, the district was issued a cease and desist letter from the attorney general's office demanding leaders stop enforcing mask and quarantine rules. A spokeswoman for the district said, "our attorneys will be responding directly to the Attorney General's Office with regard to the Cease and Desist portion of the letter."
Francis Howell School District similarly shared it would continue its mask and mitigation measures, but evaluate them at the next board meeting.
St. Louis Public Schools, Hazelwood School District and others in the area list indoor mask-wearing among the required COVID-19 mitigation efforts on their websites.
The City of St. Louis Department of Health clarified to residents, businesses and visitors that its mask mandate remains in place. The Board of Aldermen passed a new mask mandate the day after the Cole County judge’s ruling rendered health orders “null and void.”
Mask mandate confusion in St. Louis County continued Tuesday night. The County Council was expected to vote on a new health order but it didn’t end up happening because of questions over how the legislation was filed.
Councilwoman Lisa Clancy, a Democrat, filed legislation calling for a vote on a countywide mask mandate, but Councilwoman Tim Fitch, a Republican, filed opposition saying the legislation did not go through the normal legislative process. Fitch's order of opposition was sustained, and the council ultimately did not vote on a mask mandate.
Fitch said the council “won’t take it up again unless Fifth District Councilwoman Lisa Clancy or Second District Councilwoman Kelli Dunaway resubmit it next week or in the future.”