300 parents sue Minnesota school district over mask mandate

The lawsuit claims the mask mandate "denies students their right to an education" and should not be obligatory.

Virginia High School in the Rock Ridge Public Schools district. (Photo courtesy of Rock Ridge Public Schools)

Roughly 300 parents have sued Rock Ridge Public Schools, located in Minnesota’s Iron Range, to try to strike down its current mask mandate.

Court documents show that the 283 parents involved in the lawsuit are calling for a full repeal of the district’s “COVID mitigation plan,” or at least the removal of the mask mandate, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

If neither of those options are viable, the parents want the school district to instead provide an “alternative learning option” for students who do not wish to wear masks.

Rock Ridge Public Schools is a new district that only formed last July, combining two separate school districts that served the towns of Virginia, Eveleth, and Gilbert. District Superintendent Noel Schmidt told the Duluth News Tribune that, despite the lawsuit, the district will continue to “fully enforce” its COVID plan.

“At the current time, the district will be fully enforcing its COVID-19 plan, including the requirement that all students, staff and visitors wear a mask while in any district facility,” he said in a statement.

“The district is committed to providing a safe and healthy workplace for all our faculty, staff, students and visitors, and is committed to following its plan as well as the guidance from the CDC and Minnesota Department of Health.”

The lawsuit claims the mask mandate “denies students their right to an education” and should not be obligatory. It also says parents are threatened with “criminal prosecution” for allowing their children to exercise their “fundamental right” to forgo a “preventative medical treatment.”

“[T]o date, no widely accepted medical or scientific studies have demonstrated the efficacy of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19 in children,” the lawsuit adds, according to the Star Tribune.

A decision from Virginia District Judge Robert Friday is expected any day now, with the Star Tribune reporting last week that it would come on Tuesday at the earliest.