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Fojo Law Files Two Lawsuits Challenging NH School District Face Mask Requirements

Yesterday evening, we filed two lawsuits challenging two New Hampshire school districts’ requirements that students wear face masks while in school, riding the bus, or participating in extracurricular activities.

The lawsuits — one was filed against the Hollis/Brookline School District (School Administrative Unit #41), and the other was filed against the Bedford School District (School Administrative Unit #25) — were filed on behalf of several parents and their children residing in Hollis and Brookline, and Bedford, respectively, and challenge each school district’s requirement that students wear face masks or coverings while in school, riding the bus, or participating in extracurricular activities because they violate a New Hampshire statute (RSA 126-U:4) that prohibits schools from requiring restraints on children that restrict their breathing (including any restraint that involves covering the face or body with anything) or that restrict the normal function of a portion of their bodies.

Each lawsuit, like the first action we filed on behalf of Mary Rivard last year, the action we filed last year challenging the City of Nashua’s face mask ordinance, and the action we filed challenging Governor Sununu’s closure of New Hampshire schools, also includes an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order enjoining each school district from enforcing its face mask requirement.  The motion in the Hollis/Brookline lawsuit can be found here, and the motion in the Bedford lawsuit can be found here.

Each lawsuit alleges that requiring children to wear face masks or coverings contradicts one or more of the prohibitions contained in RSA 126-U:4.  Wearing a mask requires a child to cover his or her face with certain material (whether a surgical mask or a cloth mask), mechanically restricts a child’s breathing by increasing the resistance of air movement during the child’s inhalation and exhalation process, and restricts the normal function of their bodies (breathing).

In addition, each lawsuit alleges that wearing a mask has also caused the Plaintiffs’ children, at times, to develop acne and rashes on their faces in the area where the masks are worn.  These problems have caused them to be afraid, suffer anxiety, and experience headaches.  Those issues, in turn, make it difficult and uncomfortable for them to participate meaningfully in in-person instruction.  They can also cause numerous physiological and psychological effects, as well as long-term health consequences.

We are seeking an emergency order restraining each school district from enforcing its face mask requirement and from extending that requirement for the 2021-2022 school year so that children can continue attending school in-person without the burden of wearing a face mask.