A Fresno County Superior Court judge on Tuesday ordered Immanuel Schools of Reedley to close immediately to in-person instruction that began one month ago.
County counsel Daniel Cederborg said the court granted the county’s application for the preliminary injunction but that the county still has to draft the actual preliminary injunction order. That order is due to the court by Wednesday.
The ruling by Judge D. Tyler Tharpe comes three weeks after his decision not to grant the county a temporary restraining order to force the K-12 private schools to close.
Tharpe, in rejecting that request, said the county had not provided sufficient evidence of immediate danger and irreparable harm if the schools remained open.
Local, State Health Orders
Immanuel Schools opened for in-person instruction on Aug. 13, defying local and state health mandates to keep schools closed in counties like Fresno with high rates of coronavirus infections. A week later, the county’s interim health officer issued an order requiring Immanuel Schools to close to in-person instruction, which the schools ignored.
The schools, in conjunction with Clovis Christian and other schools, had filed suit in the California Supreme Court maintaining that the school closure orders were unconstitutional and sought to have them overturned. However, the Supreme Court denied the plaintiff’s petition.
Immanuel Schools officials and the schools’ attorney, Jennifer Bursch, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
‘Irreparable Harm’ if Schools Remain Open
Tharpe ruled that Fresno County and its residents would suffer irreparable harm if Immanuel Schools remained open to in-person instruction. Immanuel Schools had argued otherwise.
The judge also found that the county can lawfully order schools to remain closed in the face of a public health threat such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“A comprehensive statutory scheme exists authorizing the State of California and the County to impose measures to protect the public from infectious diseases and other health threats during declared emergencies and such measures must be complied with,” the ruling said.
Read: Temporary Restraining Order