Beshear, a Democrat, passed an executive order earlier this week that, among other things, halted face-to-face learning in public and private K-12 schools across the state from Monday.
But on Friday Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced he would attend a private Christian school, the Danville Christian Academy, in a lawsuit against Beshear. He argued that the governor’s order was unconstitutional because it would prevent religious organizations from providing private education.
“The ability to provide and receive private religious education is a central part of the freedoms protected by the First Amendment,” Republican Cameron said in a statement. “Religious schools that follow recommended social distancing guidelines should be allowed to remain open.”
The lawsuit asked the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky to hold an emergency hearing before Monday to issue a state-wide injunction to prevent Beshear’s order from going into effect.
The lawsuit comes because more and more communities and states are implementing Covid-19 restrictions – including school closings – amid a nationwide surge in coronavirus. According to the Johns Hopkins University, Kentucky had reported 152,206 cases of Covid-19 on Saturday night. More than 1,700 people have died in the state, with Shear announcing the new restrictions Wednesday, a day after the state posted a record 33 Covid-19 deaths. Other restrictions that went into effect Friday night included restrictions on restaurants and bars, private social gatherings, gyms and venues. A governor’s spokeswoman pointed out that the state’s Supreme Court recently ruled unanimously in favor of Beshear in another Covid-19 order case. CNN subsidiary WLKY reported that the court had upheld the governor’s mandates and found that he was within his constitutional authority to grant them.
“The governor has followed the advice of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the White House Coronavirus Task Force and public health experts,” spokeswoman Crystal Staley said in a statement, “and many other governors across the country are taking similar action Measures to protect the health and lives of children and families. “
Staley noted the state’s 9% test positivity rate this week, 112 districts in the “red zone” and about 10,000 students and school staff to be quarantined. She added that the state lost a teacher and his first student, a 15-year-old girl, to the virus this week.
“The attorney general should stop playing politics and instead help Kentuckians understand what it takes to defeat this virus,” Staley said.
The school uses “strict protocols” for personal learning, according to a lawsuit
Danville Christian Academy – a school with 234 students per lawsuit – has spent between $ 20,000 and $ 30,000 implementing “strict protocols” to safely deliver in-person tuition, Cameron’s statement said.
These protocols include two temperature tests when entering the school and masks when entering, leaving or moving around the school. The mask requirements do not apply to preschoolers, and students are allowed to remove their masks while at their desks.
Earlier this month, the school halted face-to-face classes for ten days after a teacher and three students tested positive for Covid-19, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit also challenges allowances for other facilities such as restaurants and office space in Beshears’ different order while schools are closed.
“If it is safe for individuals to gather at venues, shop in stores, and work in office environments,” asked Cameron in his statement, “why is it unsafe for schools in Kentucky to continue personal operations while the same safety protocols are in place ? ” “”
Danville Christian Academy is represented by several attorneys from the First Liberty Institute, including Roger Byron, who issued a statement calling Beshear’s restrictions “manifestly unconstitutional” while praising Cameron’s defense of religious freedom.
The statement also pointed to comments recently made by CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield were handed in. He said schools are among the safest places for children.
“Today we have gathered extensive data, gathered over the past two to three months, to confirm that K to 12 schools can and can safely do personal learning,” Redfield said in a briefing for the Coronavirus Task Force on Thursday. without citing the research. Several CDC spokesmen said they couldn’t immediately tell what data Redfield was talking about.
“One of the safest places for kids to go to school is,” he said. Redfield stressed the importance of “following the data” in making decisions about closings, “and I want to make it clear here that the data strongly suggests that K through 12 schools and colleges are really not where they are we have our challenges. ”
In his own statement, Byron said, “The court should reject Governor Beshear’s order and obey the CDC and the law.”
CNN’s Maggie Fox contributed to this report.