Federal court grants Gov. Beshear’s appeal to keep private, religious schools closed in Kentucky

Owensboro Catholic, Heritage Christian Schools ‘disappointed’ over court’s ruling
Updated: Nov. 30, 2020 at 4:54 AM CST
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KENTUCKY (WFIE) - The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled in favor of Governor Andy Beshear’s appeal to keep private religious schools closed for in-person learning.

[READ: Beshear files appeal to keep private, religious schools closed for in-person classes]

The Kentucky governor issued an executive order for all public and private schools to move to virtual learning on November 18. The order states that under certain circumstances, elementary schools may reopen for in-person instruction between December 7, 2020 and January 4, 2021.

The order states middle and high schools cannot reopen for in-person instruction until January 4.

According to court documents, Governor Beshear explained that compliance with masking and social distancing requirements are difficult to maintain in students at elementary and secondary schools.

Governor Beshear shared the Sixth Court has recognized the surge of COVID-19 cases in the commonwealth and across the country on Facebook.

14 News reached out to Owensboro Catholic Schools about this decision and school officials say their reaction is “disappointment.”

Administrators say they will continue to do what’s right for students and staff, and get them back to school as soon as possible.

“If our county is out of the (COVID-19 red zone) by that point in time, we will be back in person by December 7 for grades K-5, which of course his executive order stated,” OCS Chief Administrative Officer Keith Osborne said. “And then the rest of them, the rest of the students grades 6-12 will come back January 4.”

Parents are also disappointed by the court’s ruling.

“You have to think about the kids’ mental health,” Morgan Payne, a mother of a student at OCS said. “They’re so used to seeing other students, they’re used to being around other kids, and it’s just like we keep them at home to do this school work and it’s like how do us parents manage that.”

Other parents say they don’t necessarily disagree with the governor’s appeal, but understand how difficult it is for everyone involved.

“It’s hard to ask for people can you please do your part so we can just get out of this mess, be able to go back to school and, you know, let these students and these children get that learning and the in-person that they need in their lives,” Payne said.

14 News also contacted administrators with Heritage Christian School to hear their response to Sunday’s ruling.

“I want to say it respectfully that we’re very disappointed that the appeal to the governor’s injunction was overturned and the governor’s executive order still stands,” HCS Administrator Tim Hoak said. “So we cannot go back to school tomorrow. We’re very disappointed with that but we’re prepared to do it.”

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