6th Circuit denies Libertas’ request for permission to reopen

Ottawa County

Libertas Christian School near Hudsonville. (Oct. 23, 2020)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A federal appeals court has denied the request from a Hudsonville-area Christian school that it be immediately exempted from public health orders linked to coronavirus.

In a ruling issued Friday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals decided that a lower court ruled correctly when it denied Libertas Christian School’s request for a temporary injunction.

The school has been fighting with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health over how it responded when two teachers contracted the virus. The health department said the school wouldn’t turn over student rosters for contact tracing, but the argued teachers had not been with students recently enough to require contact tracing. The school also challenged virus-related health orders, saying it should be exempt based on First Amendment freedom of religion and assembly protections.

A federal judge in West Michigan denied Libertas’ request to reopen and sent the case to a state-level court to consider the enforceability of the state’s epidemic orders.

The school appealed to the 6th Circuit Nov. 6. Before it got a response, Libertas brought students back to class on Nov. 9.

MLive reported it closed of its own accord later that same week, citing the jump in coronavirus cases in Ottawa County. In its ruling, the appeals court noted that Libertas’ voluntary closure “belies any claims to ‘irreparable harm…'”

As of Monday, Libertas was no longer included on the state’s list of schools with COVID-19 outbreaks. That list previously showed five cases linked to the school.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Know something newsworthy? Report It!

News 8 Links