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Utah wants school mask mandate lawsuit dropped, lawyer for parents complains case is 'stalling'

Posted at 9:51 AM, Dec 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-01 19:08:31-05

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's Office is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state's laws that severely restrict COVID-19 school mask mandates.

During a hearing on Wednesday, lawyers for Governor Spencer Cox and the state asked for time to file the necessary paperwork. Third District Court Judge Vernice Trease has opted to wait until later to issue a ruling on an injunction to block Utah's law from going into effect.

"I would like to issue a written decision on the legal [issues] prior..." she said. "If you’re thinking you want me to set the preliminary injunction the next week, I don’t know it will be the case."

FOX 13 first reported on the lawsuit earlier this year by the Concerned Coalition of Utah and a group of parents who are challenging laws the legislature passed that severely restricted the ability of schools to impose COVID-19 mask mandates. They essentially argue the laws infringe on their childrens' right to an education under the Utah constitution.

Assistant Utah Attorney General David Wolf told the judge he would also like to get more information about the plaintiffs' children, like where the children attend school and if it is in person and if the children are vaccinated, now that one is available for people over age 5.

Greg Skordas, the attorney for the parents and the Concerned Coalition of Utah, said he would work to get them the information.

"I just hate to keep stalling this case off, that’s my only concern" he told the judge.

"I don’t like the word 'stall,'" Judge Trease replied. "I’ll just indicate, for the record, I’ve been waiting for you all."

The judge told the attorney general's office to file a motion to dismiss by next week and then allowed the plaintiffs time to respond. Another hearing has been scheduled for January.

In a statement to FOX 13 after the hearing, the Concerned Coalition of Utah said it was confident it would still prevail.

"The ongoing pandemic continues to place our children and communities at risk—and the COVID-19 virus may yet do more harm as it evolves," said coalition president Chris Phillips. "Vulnerable children in our communities remain poorly protected and unable to benefit fully from a free and fair public education. The plaintiffs in this case, from across Salt Lake County, have been directly and negatively impacted by the state's COVID-19 laws and by the related actions of elected officials. We continue to push, for our children and yours."