Patrick Whittle
Patrick Whittle is based in Maine and covers environment.

Maine dad sues school system over mask mandate

August 30, 2021 GMT

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A father is suing in federal court over a mask mandate imposed on his 12-year-old daughter in the Winslow school system.

The lawsuit names the town of Winslow, school board, public schools and Superintendent Peter Thiboutot as defendants, and accuses them of overstating the risk COVID-19 poses to children.

In the lawsuit, first reported by the Bangor Daily News, Scott Fortuna contends the mask mandate violates his rights under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution “to make decisions concerning the medical care of his child.” The lawsuit also contends COVID-19 poses “little, if any, health risk to children.”

Steve Smith, one of his attorneys, said Monday that the school district simply exceeded its authority in this instance.

“Parents are capable of reviewing and balancing the risks that COVID-19 pose to their children and making their own decisions about whether to force their child to wear a mask,” Smith said in a statement.

Mask mandates were eased in the spring, but they’re coming back with a COVID-19 resurgence caused by the delta variant.


Masks are currently recommended in 15 of the state’s 16 counties by the Maine Center for Disease Control.

In other pandemic news in Maine:



Cases of the virus in Maine also continued to rise in recent days.

The seven-day rolling average of daily new cases in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 202.83 new cases per day on Aug. 14 to 245.86 new cases per day on Aug. 28. The seven-day rolling average of daily deaths in Maine has risen over the past two weeks from 0.43 deaths per day on Aug. 14 to 0.86 deaths per day on Aug. 28.

The AP is using data collected by Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering to measure outbreak caseloads and deaths across the United States.

More than 70% of the state’s eligible population is fully vaccinated against coronavirus.

The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention said there have been more than 75,000 positive cases of the virus since the start of the pandemic. There have also been 930 deaths in the state.



Students begin returning to school in Maine’s largest school district on Tuesday.

Portland Public Schools send most students back to the classroom that day, though kindergarten and pre-kindergarten students don’t return until Thursday. The Portland Board of Public Education approved safety protocols for the year on Aug. 17.

The protocols include pooled testing for grades kindergarten through sixth, universal indoor masking and continued reminders about daily screening for symptoms.

The district said it’s planning to hold a virtual public forum about the pooled testing plan on Sept 1.