Vista Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Challenging State's Mask Mandate for Schools

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A Vista judge has dismissed a lawsuit that challenged Gov. Gavin Newsom's mask mandate in state schools.

The lawsuit filed by the local group Let Them Breathe sought to overturn mandated masking precautions at schools, as well as other state guidance related to quarantines and COVID-19 testing on school campuses.

In her ruling, San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland wrote that state officials have "a legitimate interest in protecting health and safety by mandating public measures, which measures can include masks."

In its suit, Let Them Breathe argued that masks are ineffective against COVID-19, while also alleging mask use in schools has deleterious psychological ramifications on students.

In a Vista courtroom earlier this week, Let Them Breathe attorney Lee Andelin also argued that increased vaccination numbers and a buildup of natural immunity among the general public meant conditions no longer warranted Newsom's continued COVID-19 state of emergency and any orders stemming from it.

Freeland wrote that "plaintiffs' disagreement with the level of efficacy of masks and the current state of the pandemic as it affects children does not render the defendants' proffered reason for the mask mandate arbitrary or irrational..."

Freeland also said she was not in a position to second-guess Newsom, the Legislature, or medical experts regarding whether the state of emergency was no longer needed.

“While it’s disappointing school masking was not allowed to be put on trial, at least it appears schools are free to enforce the mask mandate anyway they see fit and are not required to remove kids from the classroom for not wearing a mask. It seems the state's strategy was to dismiss the case without having to address that masking at school is not effective and is harmful to students.” said Sharon McKeeman, founder of Let Them Breathe. 

Let Them Choose, an offshoot of Let Them Breathe, also sued the San Diego Unified School District this year to block the district's COVID-19 vaccine mandate for staff and students over the age of 16. That case remains pending.

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