Judges uphold Beshear’s order to stop in-person instruction at religious schools.
FRANKFORT, Ky. – A federal appeals panel has upheld Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear’s order to stop in-person classes at religious schools during the coronavirus pandemic.
A three-member panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati on Sunday issued a stay of a federal judge’s order from last week.
“Don’t try to find an exception, do your part to save lives,” Beshear said.
Under Beshear’s new restrictions, middle and high schools are required to continue with remote instruction until January. Elementary schools may reopen on Dec. 7 if the county they’re located in isn’t in a “red zone,” the highest category for COVID-19 incidence rate.
Local religious schools like Legacy Christian Academy have had to change their plans and are now utilizing non-traditional instruction effective Monday.
School staff emphasize that they are looking for ways to re-open over the next three weeks, if safe to do so.
Teachers will be on campus to help individual students in-person on a limited capacity.
Last week the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky Wednesday ruled in favor of Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Danville Christian Academy in issuing a statewide preliminary injunction against Beshear’s order banning in-person instruction at religious schools. The lawsuit was supported by more than one dozen religious schools and over 1,000 Kentucky parents including Foundation Christian Academy in Bowling Green.
Cameron’s team argued before the court that the Beshear’s order violated the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and that religious schools that follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines should be allowed to remain open.
“The coronavirus is surging across our country and our commonwealth, brining sickness and death,” Beshear said Sunday on Twitter following the latest ruling. “Fighting back and protecting one another requires a coordinated effort where all Kentuckians do their part.
“While we all want to get our kids back to in-person instruction, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit recognized that doing so now would endanger the health and lives of Kentucky children, educators and families. Almost every county is in the red zone, we have had nearly 10,000 students and staff in quarantine over the past two weeks, our hospitals are on the verge of being overwhelmed and we have lost nearly 1,900 fellow Kentuckians, including healthcare workers, a teacher and a 15-year-old student. To help save more lives and defeat this virus we need everyone to do their part,” he said.