Washington County has a "high" level of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC.By Jessica Guay

CANONSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Parents who are concerned about the mask policy in the Canon-McMillan School District are taking legal action.

Thursday was the first day of school for students. The district’s health and safety plan states vaccinated students and staff are not required to wear a mask, and masks are optional for all other students and staff.

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On Thursday, a group of parents filed a complaint for injunctive relief, and they plan on filing a motion for a temporary restraining order to urge the board to change its optional mask policy.

“That’s essentially dividing the student body. And more importantly, it is creating a health risk for all the students there,” Alexander Saksen, an attorney with Goldbert, Kamin, and Garvin law firm.

The complaint for injunctive relief says, “Plaintiffs ask this Court to immediately enter a Temporary Restraining Order on an emergency basis, and ultimately grant Plaintiff’s a Preliminary Injunction to enjoin the Board from enforcing its mask-optional policy on its website on August 24, 2021, and to restore the status quo that the Board created when it approved the Health and Safety Plan promising to follow the science.”

“The health and safety plan that they put in place to comply with the Recovery Act did say that the school district would modify its policies based on data and it has not given the uptick in cases. Much like Allegheny County, Washington County has seen an exponential rise in cases over the last three or four weeks with no action on part of the school board,” Saksen said.

Washington County has a “high” level of COVID-19 transmission, according to the CDC.

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Saksen said some concerned parents have children with disabilities.

“They’re under a 504 plan or an IEP plan and they are also immunosuppressed. They have to either pull their kids out of school and don’t have access to those services their kids need, given their condition, or they send them to school and subject them to a risk of COVID,” he said.

The complaint states, “Defendants’ failure to amend its policies to reflect present COVID data acts to violate Plaintiff’s due process and equal protection rights, including rights of Plaintiffs and others in the CMSD that have disabilities that leave them immunocompromised and unable to attend school without a universal masking policy.”

Other Canon-Mac parents are hoping masks wearing will remain a choice.

“I do think it should be optional. I think it’s the parents’ choice. I don’t see a lot of scientific evidence that there is any real advantage to masking. I read a lot about it, and I’m just not convinced. I think there’s a lot of disadvantages for kids to wear masks. I’m firmly for it staying optional,” Tara Korey said.

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The superintendent said the district has no knowledge of the filing. Some school board members did not respond to KDKA’s reques for comment.