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Wisconsin Supreme Court temporarily blocks Dane County order requiring all virtual teaching

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Posted at 10:20 PM, Sep 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 23:21:28-04

MADISON — The Wisconsin Supreme Court issued a temporary injunction blocking Dane County's emergency order that prohibits in-person classes grades 3-12, effective immediately.

Three separate lawsuits from eight families, five private schools and two organizations were filed against Emergency Order #9.

The conservative-learning court ruled 4-3 Thursday that the county's health department does not have the authority to close schools for in-person instruction.

However, only parts of Order #9 are blocked, relating to the closing of schools due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Petitioners now have 30 days to file a single, combined brief to the court. The petitioners had previously sued the county in three separate lawsuits.

Public Health Madison and Dane County ordered on Aug. 21 that all classes grades three through 12 be held virtually, effective on Aug. 24.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which brought the action to the state Supreme Court, credited a statement from WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg:

“We are pleased the Court took swift action and agreed to review Dane County’s school closure order. We are heartened that the Court concluded that our argument is likely to succeed on the merits and, for now, barred the closing of private schools. Our clients will be able to do what they do – educating children in Dane County.”

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi condemned the decision in a news release to Madison news outlets Thursday:

“Public Health’s order prioritized the safety and well-being of kids, parents, teachers, and the communities they call home. Tonight’s order will jeopardize those goals and may lead to more illness and needless human suffering," according to Parisi.

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