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Lawsuit filed against Hudson City School District, superintendent over COVID-19 quarantine and mask policies

The lawsuit alleges that the district does not have the right to differentiate between vaccinated and unvaccinated students when it comes to masks.

HUDSON, Ohio — A lawsuit filed Monday in the Summit County Court of Common Pleas looks to stop the Hudson City School District from what a group of parents claims is "unequal treatment" of students in regard to masking and quarantine guidelines for students exposed to COVID-19. 

The suit, filed on behalf of three parents with students in the school district, alleges that masks do not prevent or stop the spread of COVID-19 and that the current quarantine policies enforced by the district discriminate against unvaccinated students and students with mask exemptions.

"Out of frustration of not being heard, and the kids still having to wear masks every day, enough parents got together," Sandi Althof, who has two kids at the elementary school and is one of the parents listed, told 3News. "They should be able to go into school, see their teachers smile, see their teachers voice clearly, see the expression on the students around them."

RELATED: Group of parents consider legal action in response to Avon Lake schools' mask mandate

The school district in October implemented a "Mask to Stay, Test to Play" strategy that changed the school district's previous quarantine policies, allowing students who had been exposed to COVID-19 to stay in the classroom so long as masks are worn and symptoms are monitored. 

The lawsuit states that in January, a student with a mask exemption was instructed to quarantine for 10 days after being exposed to a student who had tested positive for COVID-19. The student who had tested positive for COVID-19 and another student were able to return to school just four days after the COVID-19 diagnosis, while the unmasked student is still required to quarantine.

"I think we have a clear pathway here," attorney Warner Mendenhall said. "The schools are not medical people so they cannot be prescribing masks and quarantines. ... If a student is symptomatic, they can certainly send them home."

The group of parents hope that the Summit County Common Pleas Court rules that the district does not have the right to enforce such policies when it comes to students' health and education. However, others are not supportive of their efforts.

"I'll be honest with you: I don't want my kid to come home with the virus," Mo Tombak, whose son is at Hudson Junior High, stated. "If the masks try to help them, why not? They have to wear it."

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But Althof believes the decision should be left up to each individual parent.

"Does this come down to masks being a right of choice or does it come down to masks just being a distraction in the classroom?" she said. "I'm going to say it's a right of choice."

On Tuesday, Hudson City School District officials released the following statement to 3News: 

"The top priority of the Hudson City School District is to ensure a safe education for its students. We have been made aware of the lawsuit, but have no further comment on the issue, since the matter is the subject of pending litigation."  

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