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Calif. Supreme Court Rejects OC Lawsuit To Block Mask Mandate In Schools

COSTA MESA (CBSLA) – The California Supreme Court has rejected a request by the Orange County Board of Education to block students from being required to wear masks in school.

The state's high court on Wednesday rejected the request which was filed by board's pro bono law firm back on Aug. 10, according to court records obtained Thursday.

O.C. Board of Education trustee Tim Shaw said critics of the board's request "don't quite understand that we were not arguing whether or not masks were a good idea or bad idea."

Shaw said the lawsuit questioned whether Gov. Gavin Newsom should have the authority under an emergency order that is about a year and a half old to "unilaterally" make a declaration about face coverings.

The board, which does not have any authority over the school districts, issued a statement before the lawsuit was filed. It read, in part:

"When necessary, the board will fight to protect the health, safety and welfare of our county's kids at school. Unfortunately, with the governor's most recent action to force Orange County's children, even those as young as 5 and 6 years old, to endure an academic year covering their faces for hours on end, the time to fight has come again."

"Putting aside for the moment the lack of a sound medical or scientific basis for the governor's requirement to mask school children -- who in general are neither at risk from COVID-19 nor likely to spread it -- and also putting aside the lack of any thoughtful, well-considered and transparent balancing of the substantial harms of forced masking of juveniles against the purported benefits, the governor and his state-level executive agencies do not have the power to continue the state of emergency indefinitely, and to continue to suspend the Administrative Procedure Act to circumvent normal agency rule making requirements."

Dr. Dan Cooper of UC Irvine's Institute for Immunology, who has been active in the university's COVID-19 pandemic research, disputed the board's statement that children are not at risk from the coronavirus.

"That's a falsehood, that's incorrect," the pediatrician told City News Service. "We've learned that children are at risk of COVID. Yes, it's a milder disease, but to say they're not at risk is a crime. It's a lie."

Orange County has experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases as a result of the highly contagious Delta variant. Through Thursday, there were 571 people hospitalized with the disease countywide.

There were 572 new cases reported as well.

However, Orange County's death toll has been low. So far in August only six deaths have been recorded from COVID-19. The county's total death toll since the pandemic began stands at 5,169.

Meanwhile, the O.C. County Health Officer Thursday issued a "strong recommendation" that all emergency medical technicians, paramedics, and home healthcare providers be fully vaccinated by Sept. 30, or undergo bi-weekly testing.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)

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