coronavirus pandemic

CT Group Files Appeal Seeking Elimination of School Mask Requirement

The appeal was filed Friday on behalf of the Connecticut Freedom Alliance.

NBCUniversal, Inc.

A Connecticut group is seeking legal action against the state Department of Education's decision to require students to wear masks this school year.

According to an appeal filed Friday, the Connecticut Freedom Alliance is requesting that the state eliminate all requirements regarding the use of face coverings, masks and face shields. They are also asking a judge to issue an order barring any school in Connecticut from requiring face coverings by students at any time during the school day, during after-school programs or on the school bus.

“Requiring children to wear masks, we believe, infringes on that right because they are not going to get the education they deserve," said Doug Dubitsky, an attorney representing the alliance.

Dubitsky and Craig Fishbein, another attorney, filed the appeal on behalf of the Connecticut Freedom Alliance. They listed two parents as plaintiffs, one from East Lyme and another from Manchester, stating that the parents oppose their children being, "required to wear face coverings, masks, face shields, or any other attire or apparatus on their persons in order to receive their fundamental right to an education.”

Dubitsky and Fishbein also claim that there is no science to support the fact that masks keep children safe. They say they are seeking information from the Department of Education regarding how the department made the decision to enforce the mask rule.

“Where is the evidence that there is any benefit to a child whatsoever? We haven’t seen it," said Dubitsky.

According to Alvin Tran, an associate professor of public health at University of New Haven's School of Health Sciences, masks are the greatest "weapon" against spreading COVID-19, especially in the classroom.

"At this point we know that children, when they become infected they tend to have milder symptoms of COVID-19. That said, there is always a risk of children becoming sick due to COVID-19," said Tran. "COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets. So if you are within a specific close proximity to a person who is infected, you could become infected by inhaling some of these droplets.”

There is no court date set for the appeal. Dubitsky and Fishbein said, depending on how things progress, they would contemplate further legal action in the form of a lawsuit.

The Office of the Attorney General responded to NBC Connecticut on behalf of their office and the state Department of Education, writing, "We are reviewing the complaint and will respond in court. Masks keep people safe. Please wear your mask."

Jeffrey Netwon, East Lyme's superintendent, also explained, "unless a student has an underlying and documented medical condition they will be required to wear a mask in school outside of designated mask breaks occurring during the day.  If refusal occurs then it will be immediately addressed by administration."

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