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Michigan Catholic high schools sue the state over forced shutdowns

Dec. 8, 2020
The Catholic schools say the state has overstepped its authority by banning in-person high school classes.

A group of Catholic high schools in Michigan are suing the state to challenge that emergency health orders that have banned in-school classes and religious training.

MLive.com reports that the Michigan Association of Non-public Schools, an organization of 400 schools with 90,000 students, filed the federal lawsuit following an announcement by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer that the Department of Health and Human Services was extending an in-place partial shutdown through Dec. 20, because of surging coronavirus case numbers.

The schools argue that they have taken the necessary precautions to keep children safe and health officials are overstepping their authority with a ban on in-school classes for students at private schools.

“Member high schools have proven it is possible to educate students in person in a safe manner, when appropriate.” says the association's executive director, Brian Broderick.

Joining in the lawsuit are parents of students at Lansing Catholic High School in Lansing, Father Gabriel Richard High School in Ann Arbor and and Everest Collegiate Academy in Clarkston.

Tom Maloney, the superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Lansing, says the value of in-person schooling and religious training is “so monumental” that the health orders must be challenged in the courts.

“Our great concern is that high school closures will continue to be extended indefinitely, and without considering the success of our safety plans or acknowledging the uniqueness of our mission-focused programs,” Maloney says.

The state's partial shutdown bars indoor dining and in-person instruction for high schools and colleges. It is in effect through Dec. 20.

Elementary and middle schools may still conduct in-person learning if a district allows it.

The religious schools that are suing the health and human services department say they have not had significant coronavirus outbreaks within their institutions.

Michigan health officials have recorded 404,386 confirmed coronavirus cases and 9,350 deaths.

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