A father is suing the Winslow school system, claiming the mask mandate for students violates his parental rights.
Scott Fortuna's 12-year-old daughter is a student at Winslow Junior High School. Like a lot of parents, he has concerns about whether students should be required to wear masks while in school all day. It's a highly debated issue, with each school community making decisions about whether to require the face coverings inside school buildings, or whether to make it optional, so the parents can decide for themselves. Many schools that originally made it mandatory for this academic year have reversed that decision with the rise of the Delta variant.
Winslow's school system has made it a mandatory requirement of attending classes that all students, teachers, and staff must wear masks. The department's policies are spelled out on their website. They also plan to engage in pooled testing, in which participating students will be regularly tested for COVID-19 to get an overview of the health of the student body.
But Fortuna disagrees with the school's policies, stating that the mask mandate is a violation of his 14th Amendment rights, under the U.S. Constitution, to make medical decisions for his own child. According to the AP, he also believes the school system is exaggerating the effects of COVID-19 in children. Fortuna says parents should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether their child wears a mask while in school.
Defendants named in the lawsuit include the town of Winslow, the school board, public schools, and Superintendent of Schools Peter Thiboutot.