An Ohio federal appeals court is backing a network of Christian schools after health officials ordered that all schools close to prevent spreading the Coronavirus.
A three-judge panel on the US 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted an injunction against the Toledo-Lucas County Health Department (TLCHD) after officials insisted that all Lucas County schools, including public, private, charter, and parochial institutions remain closed until Jan. 11.
Plaintiffs included 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 declared the mandate unconstitutional and says it disregards medical data showing that schools are safe for children.
"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," he added. "Lucas County families have suffered plenty through this pandemic, and to unreasonably deny their children in-person education is unconscionable."
The lawsuit pointed out that "For many parents, teachers, and private school administrators, providing faith-based instruction is an act of worship," therefore these restrictions violate their religious freedom.
And school leaders worried about the impact a closure would have on the children's education, spiritual health, and mental well-being.
"Our message is simple, let kids learn, and let Christian schools continue to disciple the next generation in grace and truth," Baer concluded.
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