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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

State Supreme Court rules masks in schools do not infringe on rights

Children with face masks in a school classroom.
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Children with face masks in a school classroom.

The State Supreme Court this week ruled against parents who argued that school mask mandates infringed on their constitutional rights.

The group of parents, known as Stand Up Montana, brought two cases in Gallatin and Missoula counties where mask rules were implemented in districts last school year in order to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The 5-0 Supreme Court ruling upholds lower courts decisions in favor of school districts, saying that their mask mandates were not unreasonable or arbitrary.

The state Supreme Court noted that the U.S. Supreme Court has already found that limiting the spread of COVID is a legitimate government interest.

The justices also pushed back on plaintiffs’ arguments that masks are medical devices and that mandating them is forcing an unwanted medical treatment on children and adults in schools. Justices in their decision wrote that masks are not medical devices and agreed with the Missoula court’s view that mandatory masking is “no more a ‘medical treatment’ for virulent disease than a motorcycle helmet . . . is a treatment for a head injury.”

Aaron Bolton is Montana Public Radio's Flathead Valley reporter.
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