A federal appeals court has sided with a group of Christian schools in Ohio attempting to reverse orders by health officials forcing closure of the schools in an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19.
According to CBN News, a panel of three judges on the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) after officials ordered the closures of all Lucas County schools, including public, private, charter, and parochial institutions until January 11.
The suit was brought by Monclova Christian Academy, St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy, Emmanuel Christian School, and six schools affiliated with the Ohio Christian Education Network (OCEN).
Aaron Baer, president of Citizens for Community Values, which operates OCEN, claimed that the mandated closures were not only unconstitutional but that they contradicted medical evidence regarding the safety of schools amid the pandemic.
“Despite all the medical evidence and experts that continue to say one of the safest places for children to be is in school, Lucas County has taken aggressive action to deny children the right to in-person education,” Baer said. “Meanwhile, they’ve let casinos, strip clubs, liquor stores, and concerts continue. We cannot sit idly by while children and freedoms are being harmed.”
“Today’s order is a victory for families, for religious freedom, and for all those willing to courageously stand up against unnecessary and overreaching government orders,” Baier said of the granting of the injunction in a press release. “Lucas County families have suffered plenty through this pandemic, and to unreasonably deny their children in-person education is unconscionable.”
“For many parents, teachers, and private school administrators, providing faith-based instruction is an act of worship,” the lawsuit claimed, arguing that the closures represented a clear violation of the First Amendment.
Meanwhile, leadership within the schools was concerned about the impact a protracted closure would have on the education, spiritual health, and mental well-being of their students.
“Our message is simple,” Baer concluded. “Let kids learn, and let Christian schools continue to disciple the next generation in grace and truth.”
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