Officials react to court ruling that allows Immanuel Schools to stay open

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's back to school for now at Immanuel schools, in Reedley, after a judge ruled the county hasn't convinced him yet that bringing kids back to campus is an immediate threat to the health of the Fresno County community.

RELATED: Immanuel Schools can stay open for now, court rules

The school claimed herd immunity after suspected outbreaks in January and February infected almost 60 percent of students and staff.

Something Fresno County Public Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra says is unlikely.

"Looking at the raw numbers and how this virus travels, it doesn't suggest that we had a Coronavirus epidemic that was filling up all the hospitals back then in January and February," he said.

County attorneys filed for the injunction to close the private school a week after it brought students and staff back despite state and local emergency orders surrounding the COVID 19 pandemic, something that will be revisited September 15.

"How does the county prove the opening of the school creates an imminent danger to public health and safety," says Legal Analyst Tony Capozzi. "Does the county have to show more people have to die more people have to contract this virus? That's a dangerous precedent to set."

Immanuel is also part of a lawsuit going before the state supreme court.

They didn't return our request for comment but did release a statement that reads in part, "we will continue our legal efforts defending our rights to remain open," adding their "legal actions will be at both the county and state levels, which includes the lawsuit seeking emergency relief against the Governor and State Health Director."

"If the court threw the case out or said the governor didn't have the power, it creates chaos throughout the state, allowing each one of the districts to make their own determination," Capozzi said.

Robert Tyler with Advocates for Faith and Freedom is a managing partner at the firm that filed the petition, with the state supreme court, on behalf of schools, including Immanuel.

"We are arguing that it is unconstitutional under the state constitution for the governor to have closed down schools," he said.

The state supreme court has now said Gov. Newsom has until 3 pm Friday afternoon to respond to both lawsuits.
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