Judge: Beshear cannot suspend in-person classes at private schools

Judge: Beshear cannot suspend in-person classes at private schools
Gov. Andy Beshear (Source: Twitter: Gov. Andy Beshear)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A federal judge is allowing religious and private schools in Kentucky to resume in-person instruction, ruling that such institutions are exempt from an executive order signed by Governor Andy Beshear. In the order, the governor required all schools to halt in-person classes to prevent the continued spread of the coronavirus starting Nov. 23 and ending Dec. 13.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Van Tatenhove made the ruling on a lawsuit initially filed by Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Danville Christian Academy on Nov. 20. The lawsuit asked for a temporary restraining order to be put in place against Beshear’s order affecting religious and private schools.

“Religious schools across the Commonwealth have been closed by the Governor to in-person teaching along with secular schools. This prevents the corporate nature of religious education which is insinuated with worship, prayer, and mentoring,” Van Tatenhove wrote. “The Governor has every right to impose some restrictions on all schools, religious and secular alike. Social distancing, face masks, limits on class size, reporting requirements, and other protocols may cost money and may be inconvenient for parents and students, but we give executives increased discretion in times of crisis. But in an effort to do the right thing to fight the virus, the Governor cannot do the wrong thing by infringing protected values.”

The judge ruled Beshear’s order stands for public schools statewide.

In a statement from the governor’s communications director, she said the judge’s ruling was expected but still disconcerting.

“We are disappointed but not surprised that Judge Van Tatenhove, for the second time, has refused to acknowledge the U.S. Supreme Court decision that found an action like this is both legal and constitutional,” Director of Communications for the Office of Gov. Andy Beshear Crystal Staley wrote. “We have already appealed to the Sixth Circuit and will request an emergency stay of the judge’s order, and, if necessary, will appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Let’s be clear: lives are on the line and everyone must do their part to defeat the virus.”

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