REGION – A San Diego-based group of parents that filed a lawsuit against the State of California in an effort to end the mask mandate for schools were denied a temporary restraining order by a San Diego judge.
San Diego Superior Court Judge Cynthia Freeland on Sept. 30 denied the request for an emergency court order to temporarily block the state from enforcing mask mandates in its schools.
The lawsuit names Gov. Gavin Newsom, Health and Human Services Secretary Dr. Mark Ghaly, state Public Health Officer Tomás Aragón and the state’s Safe Schools for All team leader, Dr. Naomi Bardach as defendants.
“Kids have been in school for months and protocols have been in place, and so I’m not seeing an emergency today that would warrant issuing a temporary restraining order,” Freeland said during the hearing.
Freeland set a hearing for Nov. 8 where both sides will present their arguments ahead of a preliminary injunction that could temporarily halt the state mask mandate while the lawsuit is ongoing.
Sharon McKeeman, a Carlsbad parent and founder of Let Them Breathe, said she remains hopeful and relieved that the hearing didn’t get pushed back to March, which she says the state had proposed.
“We’re very thankful that we’re going to have that full hearing here in a few weeks,” McKeeman said. “Obviously, we are trying to establish masked choice as soon as possible because we know our kids are suffering, but we think that will be a productive, legal conversation. And we know that the law and the science are on our side.”
According to court papers filed by the state, “schools remain free to implement testing and quarantine protocols, regardless of the recommendations’ existence.”
During a Vista Unified School District board meeting in July, several parents spoke out against the group and the lawsuit.
“Kids under the age of 12 are vulnerable,” said Karie Winchester, according to a Fox 5 article. “I hate hearing, ‘Oh well it’s just going be easy for them to survive it — we don’t know the long-term effects.”
McKeeman noted that Thursday’s hearing was not a total loss as state officials said in court papers that, when it comes to quarantine and testing, schools don’t necessarily have to follow the state’s guidance.
“We’re going to be putting out some advocacy resources for school districts that want to reside by a common-sense approach to testing and quarantining and help them understand that they can do that,” McKeeman said. “We will also put school districts on notice that are over-testing and over-quarantining and keeping the kids from their in-person education that they can’t just blame that on the state because it has been acknowledged that that is just a recommendation on the state’s part.”
The next court hearing will be on Nov. 8.