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The Appeals Court has refused to rule on the merits of a lawsuit challenging the department of education’s authority to impose a statewide mask mandate for school children.

The lawsuit, which I took part in, asserted that the education department had no legal power to make health polices for the state’s school children. Moreover, the education department’s actions effectively preempted existing statutory law governing contagious diseases as well as the health department’s powers to deal with such matters.

The court declined to rule on the case because

The State and local mask requirements that the plaintiffs seek to enjoin are no longer in effect. Thus, there is nothing to enjoin.

Attorneys challenging the mask mandate asked the Appeals Court to use its discretion and rule on the merits of the case despite its mootness.

According to Massachusetts case law:

Dismissal for mootness may be inappropriate if the situation presented is capable of repetition, yet evading review.

Boelter v. Selectmen of Wayland, 479 Mass. 233, 238 (2018).

The court rejected the idea that mask mandates are likely to return in the future due to “multiple types of COVID-19 tests, vaccines, and COVID-19 treatments that can be administered at home.”

(Of course, all of these measures were available by late February 2022 when the school mask mandate was still in effect.)

The justices thus concluded

that the plaintiffs’ contention that there is a ‘likelihood that this [mask mandate] policy should return…at the whims of the [department’ is more than ‘[s]peculative fear of future litigation.

To read the case in its entirety, click the document below: