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Judge To Immanuel Schools: Stop In-Person Teaching Immediately

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Aerial view of Immanuel Schools campus in Reedley, California
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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

 



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Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email