This afternoon, we filed another lawsuit challenging a New Hampshire school district’s requirement that students wear face masks while in school or participating in extracurricular activities. This one is, again, against the Bedford School District.
This lawsuit comes after we filed one against the Hollis/Brookline School District (School Administrative Unit #41) and a second one against the Bedford School District (School Administrative Unit #25) in late May, a third one against Londonderry, Epping, and Timberlane School Districts in July, a fourth one nearly two weeks ago against the Exeter School District, and a fifth one last week against the Merrimack Valley School District. Like those lawsuits, this one was filed on behalf of five sets of parents and their children residing in the District and challenges its requirement that students wear face masks or coverings while in school or participating in extracurricular activities. This lawsuit primarily alleges that the District modified its reopening plan by changing the criteria for identifying an “outbreak” of COVID-19 cases in a given school without a public hearing or notice of a hearing and then, based on that unilateral change, implementing universal masking in one if its schools for 14 days. Plaintiffs’ children were denied entry to the school this morning when they showed up without masks. The lawsuit also alleges the school district face mask mandate violates children’s Constitutional right to an education and a parent’s fundamental Constitutional right to make medical decisions for their children and direct the care and upbringing of their children; school districts lack the statutory authority to issue face mask mandates; and any such mandates are preempted by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services’ comprehensive regulatory scheme concerning communicable diseases.
The 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 can be found here.
In addition, the 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 the District from enforcing its face mask mandate and from extending that mandate for the rest of the 2021-2022 school year so that children can continue attending school in-person without the burden of wearing a face mask.