Dad Accuses School District of 'Aggrandizing' COVID-19 Risk to Children in Lawsuit

The father of a 12-year-old girl in Winslow, Maine, is taking his child's school district to court, contending its mask requirements for students impedes his parental rights.

The lawsuit filed Friday by Scott Fortuna lists the town of Winslow, the school board, the public schools and their superintendent, Peter Thiboutot, as defendants. The filing claims the defendants are "aggrandizing" the risk of COVID-19 to children.

Fortuna also claims that the mask mandate violates his rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution "to make decisions concerning the medical care of his child."

The lawsuit states that COVID-19 poses "little, if any, health risk to children."

The Penobscot County man did not return the Associated Press's request for comment, nor did his attorney. Masks in schools, which are currently recommended in 15 of the Maine's 16 counties, have become a political flashpoint, with parents, schools and states finding little to agree on.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Back to school
WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 29: Guests receive souvenirs as Pepsi Stronger Together invests in more than 300 DC-area Youth With School Supplies, Meals, And Important Life Skills at Back-To-School Market at Randall Recreation Center on August 29, 2021 in Washington, DC. Jemal Countess/Getty Images/Pepsi Stronger Together

In other pandemic news in Maine:

The Numbers

Cases of the virus in Maine also continued to rise in recent days.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 202.83 new cases per day on August 14 to 245.86 new cases per day on August 28. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.43 deaths per day on August 14 to 0.86 deaths per day on August 28.

The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

More than 70 percent of the state's eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been more than 75,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 930 deaths in the state.

Schools Return

Students begin returning to school in Maine's largest school district on Tuesday.

Portland Public Schools send most students back to the classroom that day, though kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students don't return until Thursday. The Portland Board of Public Education approved safety protocols for the year on August 17.

The protocols include pooled testing for grades kindergarten through sixth, universal indoor masking and continued reminders about daily screening for symptoms.

The district said it's planning to hold a virtual public forum about the pooled testing plan on September 1.