Lawyers for three small Christian schools met Monday with Jefferson County Public Health’s executive director during a one-day hearing in which the county health department urged schools to comply with its COVID-19 mask mandate for students. tried to.
Department of Health Asked for a judge’s order last week. When the agency found that three schools were not implementing the mask mandate properly in their classrooms. The schools objected, saying both were following the county’s guidelines – which they argued were issued late, lacked legal authority and changed over time – and that That the county’s public health order was unconstitutional, among other arguments.
Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director Don Comstock was the only witness to testify Tuesday. The hearing is not over and will continue till Wednesday.
ComStock testified extensively to the rising rates of Covid 19 infection in the county, especially among school-going children who are not eligible for the vaccine under the age of 12, and schools returned this fall. Significant rates of infection have been reported since arrival.
“For the first time, the incidence rate is higher in both the 6-11 age group and the 12-17 age group than in adults,” he said. “This is the first time the entire epidemic has been seen in the state of Colorado.”
Supporters of the school filled the courtroom on Tuesday. In the morning, some observers sat shoulder to shoulder on the floor and stood in the back of the room. ComStack once interrupted his testimony to remind observers to wear their masks properly.
“Your Excellency, I think this is irregular but I am concerned that we have a very crowded room in which many people are not wearing their masks.” It was drowned out by the ridiculous laughter of the audience.
District Court Judge Randall Arp asked everyone in the courtroom to wear a mask over their nose and face, and said those who did not would be removed. Deputies expelled a man from the overflow room who refused to wear a mask.
The school’s lawyers, who inspected the work stock on Tuesday, focused on the arguments the schools had filed in court. The Faith Christian Academy argued that it enforced the mask in its school, but when health inspectors visited there, there were “some flaws in enforcing it because everyone was trying to understand the scope of the public health order.” While waking up to everything else. Responsibilities to start the school year
Beth Eden Baptist School said in a filing that the school had decided last week, hours before the lawsuit was filed, that it would comply with the mandate and allow inspectors unrestricted access.
“By the time this case was registered, our client was fully compliant,” attorney Sean Pierman said of Beth Eden during Tuesday’s hearing. Department of Health lawyer Craig May disagreed.
The Augustine Classical Academy also stated that it complied with the county mask mandate, pointing out that the original mask order had been changed at the end of August and that the school had adjusted its initial response to the change.
“We are curious as to why the JCPH targeted small religious schools as an attempt to intimidate, if not harass, our schools due to non-compliance with the Public Health Order when all three schools or So clearly indicated its voluntary compliance and / or was investigated and found to be complied with by JCPH inspectors.
The schools also raised objections on constitutional grounds, arguing that the requirement of mask mandates and testing of students and staff without immunizations violates the Fourth and Fifth Amendments, as the Department of Health wanted schools to be notified without prior notice. Allow access to health inspectors.
“The plaintiff seeks from this court to grant the plaintiff the unparalleled power to seek ordinary and random warrants in order to enforce a directive whose violation is criminally punishable.” “The Fourth Amendment prohibits such broad power.”