California slams 'inaccurate and outdated beliefs' of parents suing to reopen schools

California in a legal brief is slamming the “inaccurate and outdated beliefs” of parents who are suing the state to force schools to reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

The state fired back after more than a dozen parents filed a lawsuit last month requesting a temporary restraining order on Gov. Gavin NewsomGavin NewsomCalifornia governor Newsom signs bill extending family leave to small businesses California family frustrated that governor, Harris used fire-damaged property for 'photo opportunity' Pac-12 moves toward 'return to competition' after Big Ten announces resumption of football season MORE’s (D) order for schools in counties on the state’s watch list to conduct virtual learning. 

In an opposition brief, California officials countered the parents, saying they were depending on incorrect beliefs early in the pandemic that COVID-19 had a “minimal effect on children of any age.”

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“In contending that the order and guidance are not based on scientific data, plaintiffs rely on their inaccurate and outdated beliefs that school-age children do not spread COVID-19, and that opening schools for in-person instruction in counties with high COVID-19 rates poses a negligible health risk,” the brief reads. 

“Yet COVID-19 knows no age boundaries,” it continues. “People of all ages, including children, are susceptible to the disease.”

California officials argued that the scientific consensus is that children are “susceptible to the disease” and could “experience uniquely severe complications.”

“Moreover, because children may spread the virus throughout the community in the same manner as adults, they must be factored into the community-wide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19,” the brief said, noting that the state has about 6.5 million school-age children. 

The parents reportedly responded by saying, “the public has no interest in keeping schools closed this fall because in-person learning does not meaningfully increase the risk of spreading COVID-19,” local TV station CBS News 8 reported

The plaintiffs said "numerous scientific studies from around the world have demonstrated that children are not significant vectors of the disease."

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"Defendants have not submitted a single expert declaration disputing this evidence," they wrote.

The parents’ lawsuit alleges that the state shutdown of schools within certain counties violates their children’s constitutional rights to an education. 

They say California officials did not deny that virtual learning in the spring was "an unmitigated disaster that deprived millions of California students of an adequate education," and the governor's order will "fall hardest" on students without access to needed technology and students with learning disabilities.

Newsom’s order announced last month said that schools in a county can be reopened once the county is off the state’s watch list for 14 days. The state COVID-19 watch list has 38 counties.

California has reported more than 599,000 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with more than 10 percent of those cases being reported last week, The New York Times reported

The lawsuit comes as a national debate ensues over whether to send children back to school during the pandemic or to conduct virtual learning, which likely is not as educationally valuable.

—Updated at 6:31 p.m.