FRANKFORT – (KT) A federal judge has struck down Gov Andy Beshear’s mask mandate for schools, but at this point the ruling only affects the Catholic Diocese of Covington schools.
The governor issued an executive order implementing the mask mandate for a 30-day period during an Aug. 10 press conference, due to the massive rise in COVID-19 cases, especially with the delta variant that affects children more.
“We are now in an alarming place,” he said at the time. “I am signing an executive order that requires that all individuals, teachers, staff, students and visitors, in K-12 schools, childcare and pre-K, wear a mask. This is how we make sure that we protect our children, but this is also how we make sure that they stay in school.”
That led to a lawsuit brought by parents of students at a Catholic School in the Campbell County community of Cold Spring.
In a ruling, handed down Thursday, U.S. District Judge William Bertelsman said the mandate flew in the face of legislation passed by the General Assembly this year, limiting the governor’s executive order powers.
“The Executive Branch cannot simply ignore laws passed by the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Therein lies tyranny. If the citizens dislike the laws passed, the remedy lies with them, at the polls,” he wrote in the eight-page decision.
In a statement issued after the ruling was issued, Crystal Staley, the governor’s spokesperson said: “The federal court’s ruling could place thousands of Kentucky children at risk and undoubtedly expose them to the most dangerous version of COVID-19 we have ever seen.
“The court ruled without hearing from the Governor and with absolutely no consideration of the consequences of exposure and quarantine that we will see – especially at a time when we are nearly out of staffed hospital beds statewide. Nor was the court provided the Franklin Circuit Court’s injunction of the legislation at issue.
“We will pursue every avenue and option to ensure that we can protect Kentucky’s children.
“Thankfully, while we disagree with the plaintiffs in the case, they have agreed that the order should be narrowed to only apply to their diocese and no other schools.
“Regardless, the Kentucky Department of Education’s emergency regulation remains in effect for public schools, as does the Cabinet for Health and Family Services’ emergency regulation related to childcare settings.”
Those emergency regulations could be in effect for up to 270 days.
A hearing on a preliminary injunction in the lawsuit is scheduled for next week.
(By Tom Latek, Kentucky Today)