Religious schools, along with the students’ parents, in Kentucky have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Andy Beshear for restricting in-person learning, as reported by CBN News.
Last week, Beshear issued an order banning schools from holding classes in person. Other establishments, such as restaurants, gyms, and indoor recreation facilities, however, may allow a maximum capacity of 25 people per room. The new restrictions are being enforced in both private and public schools, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.
The schools contend that Beshear’s order violates their freedom of religion under the First Amendment, as well as the state’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.
“Because the religious schools believe both in the importance of their mission and the need for in-person instruction to the greatest extent possible, each of the religious schools has taken extraordinary steps and incurred significant financial expense to provide safe in-person learning during this academic year,” the brief filed by First Liberty, a nonprofit religious liberty group, said.
“No evidence whatsoever has linked any current increase in COVID cases to numbers in schools,” the brief also said.
State Attorney General Daniel Cameron joined the seventeen schools’ lawsuit against Beshear. Additionally, more than 1,000 parents also filed a separate brief supporting the lawsuit.
Roger Byron, senior counsel at First Liberty, indicated that the governor has overstepped both the law and the CDC who has “made it clear that one of the safest locations students can be at during the pandemic is in school.”
He also chided Beshear for allowing other venues freedom, while restricting it from the schools.
“If it is safe for individuals to gather in venues, shop in stores, and work in office environments, why is it unsafe for Kentucky schools to continue in-person operations while applying the same safety protocols?” he said.
Many of the Christian schools have spent from $70,000 to $392,000 to implement safety measures for the children, including social distancing measures and additional cleaning staff.
The Democratic governor, however, told Kentucky residents in his latest COVID-19 update that “it is not safe” for children to return to school. Attorneys for the governor filed a response to the school’s lawsuit, stating that the religious schools have been treated equally to public schools and that “they cannot counter the substantial harm and detriment to the public interest that their requested relief could cause.”
The Kentucky Supreme Court also recently agreed with Beshear and gave him the green light to continue the restrictions.
The state has counted over 160,000 COVID cases with more than 1,800 deaths.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Dolgachov
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Mikaela Mathews is a freelance writer and editor based in Dallas, TX. She was the editor of a local magazine and a contributing writer for the Galveston Daily News and Spirit Magazine.