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Catholic high schools in Michigan sue over coronavirus order keeping them closed

Two high schools in the Diocese of Lansing have joined a lawsuit against a public health order keeping schools in Michigan closed for in-person learning, calling the order “scientifically, educationally and constitutionally unjustified.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced Dec. 7 an extension of public health orders meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus until Dec. 20. The orders had originally gone into effect Nov. 18 and were due to expire at the end of the day Dec. 8, the Detroit Free Press reported.

They include continued restrictions on indoor dining as well as a 12-day extension of a ban on in-person learning for high schools, colleges, and universities.

Tom Maloney, the Lansing diocese’s superintendent of schools, said that the order “confirms our fear that MDHHS will continue to make decisions about closing schools, and in our specific case Catholic schools, without regard to the obvious and proven efficacy of our local COVID-19 school safety plans nor the uniqueness of our mission-based schools which are protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution – therefore we support our families and schools in challenging this decision in court.”

Maloney added that “our high schools’ COVID-19 safety plans, with their robust health and safety protocols, are working well at protecting both our school communities and the community at large, while also ensuring that our young people can receive the in-person education and formation that is so irreplaceable to their spiritual, intellectual, emotional, and social development.”

Lansing Catholic High School and Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor joined the Michigan Association of Nonpublic Schools in the suit, seeking protection for all MANS-member schools to reopen legally. MANS is an ecumenical group that represents over 400 schools in the state.

The schools argue in the lawsuit that the schools’ COVID-19 safety plans have largely prevented the spread of the virus, and say Whitmer’s order interferes with free religious exercise.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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