School Leaders to Sue Gavin Newsom for 'Serious Harm' of Child Mask Mandate

The Orange County Board of Education is to sue California Governor Gavin Newsom over a requirement for schoolchildren to wear face masks in classrooms.

The board voted 4 to 0 on Tuesday in favor of suing the Democratic governor over the mask mandate, reported The Orange County Register.

The board called the requirement "unwarranted" and raised questions about the effectiveness of face masks in combating COVID-19.

The vote took place during a closed session that had only one agenda item—the litigation. A fifth member of the board attended the start of the meeting but left before the vote.

Following the vote, an attorney read a statement from the board that accused Newsom of misusing his authority by extending public health requirements under California's state of emergency.

The board members wrote that the governor had "misused that power in a way that threatens serious harm to Orange County's children."

The statement went on: "Putting aside for the moment the lack of a sound medical or scientific basis for the Governor's requirement to mask school children (who in general are neither at risk from COVID-19 nor likely to spread it), and also putting aside the lack of any thoughtful, well-considered and transparent balancing of the substantial harms of forced masking of juveniles against the purported benefits, the Governor and his state-level executive agencies do not have the power to continue the state of emergency indefinitely, and to continue to suspend the Administrative Procedure Act to circumvent normal agency rule making requirements.

"Above all, the Board also recognizes the importance of keeping our children safe at school and free from policies or practices that will cause them harm. When necessary, the Board will fight to protect the health, safety, and welfare of our county's kids at school."

On August 3, Orange County recorded 872 positive tests for COVID, according to the county healthcare agency. COVID hospitalizations are surging across California, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has reported.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends "universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status." This is consistent with CDC advice that even fully vaccinated people should wear face coverings indoors.

Last month, California state officials issued an order for the upcoming school year in line with the CDC guidelines.

The school board will be represented on a pro bono basis by law firm Tyler & Bursch. Last year, the Orange County board filed a lawsuit against Newsom and California's then director of public health, Sonia Y. Angell, over school closures. The state's supreme court refused to hear the case.

Newsweek has asked Governor Gavin Newsom's office for comment on the lawsuit.

Governor Gavin Newsom Wears a Face Mask
Governor Gavin Newsom wears a face mask during a tour of a COVID vaccination site in Long Beach, California, on February 22. The Orange County School Board also attempted to sue Newsom in July 2020. PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP/Getty Images