A brief overview of where the mask mandate stands for Washoe County School District.
On August 4, 2021 Governor Sisolak, in keeping with the Center for Disease Control (CDC), issued an Emergency Directive requiring staff and students, Kindergarten through 12th grade, to wear face masks while inside the school and on the bus regardless of vaccination status. Shortly thereafter, the Washoe County School District Board of Trustees (the Board) and Superintendent McNeill decided to follow the governor’s mandate. Masks were back as a requirement for kids to attend school.
This mandate has divided our community. Everyone seems to agree that the best thing for children is to be back in school. Most agree COVID-19 (the virus) is spread through respiratory droplets of an infected person and the spread is slowed by wearing a prescribed mask. However, not everyone agrees that a child should have to wear a mask to return to school.
This difference of opinion became evident during the public comment portion of the School Board’s regular meeting on August 24, 2021. A couple of people agreed with turning the CDC’s recommendations into a mandate, feeling it was little to ask to protect all the children in attendance at school and the best way to keep children learning in person, but the majority of people voiced their opposition. Questions were raised about; the efficacy of the masks being worn, possible physical and mental problems such as headaches, dizziness, lack of fresh air, mask contamination, depression, and whether masks should be mandated when there is almost zero risk of death to school aged children due to the virus. People were concerned about government overreach.
Legal Action - Lawsuits Filed To Fight Mandate
The Board’s decision to mandate masks had a lot to do with fear of losing state money if they defied the Governor’s order. Going forward, the Board has agreed to revisit the mask requirements every two weeks, which is little comfort to those who want change to the policy now. The question of whether the government may have overreached by mandating masks may be answered by a Nevada federal court. On August 12, 2021 two attorney’s Sigal Chattah, running for NV attorney general, and Joey Gilbert, running for NV governor, filed a civil rights complaint seeking to be certified for a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court, District of Nevada on behalf of two parents and their children in the Clark County School District alleging their civil rights have been violated by Governor Sisolak’s mask mandate.
A Fox5vegas.com article posted on August 12, 2021, sets out many of the lawsuit’s allegations against Governor Sisolak, Attorney General Ford, and the Clark County School District (CCSD):
1) They were intentionally “wanton and reckless” in their conduct as it relates to the health and safety of students enrolled in CCSD;
2) Governor Sisolak is in violation of NRS 414.060 as he has exceeded his powers with regard to the emergency orders and mandates. As Attorney Gilbert stated, “There is no longer an emergency, it is about government control.”;
3) Violation of NRS 200.508 which addresses abuse, neglect, and child endangerment by forcing CCSD students to arbitrarily and capriciously wear masks; and 4) additional constitutional violations.
The article informs us that the allegations that Sisolak's Emergency Directives have gone on for over 18 months and even if he is trying to do what is best his orders have become overbearing and burdensome, especially because children without underlying health issues have essentially a zero chance of dying from COVID-19*. There are also allegations that masks cause many different health problems like difficulty breathing, anxiety, trapped contaminants, problems with normal development and infliction of emotional distress.
BBME's Commitment to Communication
Battle Born Moms for Education will continue to monitor the Board of Trustees standing mask agenda item and will report any further developments as this case progresses through our district and our legal system. Public comment can be made on all issues surrounding masks at WCSD's regular board meetings on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays at 2pm. Learn how to share your voice here.