FRESNO, Calif. (KGPE) — A Reedley private school openly defying county and state orders by holding in-person classes can continue, at least for now.
Tuesday afternoon, Fresno County Superior Court Judge Tyler Tharpe denied Fresno County’s request for Immanuel Schools to close, citing not enough evidence that the school is posing as an immediate health risk.
The judge ordered a second hearing on Sept. 15 when he will hear arguments on both sides and make another decision on the injunction.
While the hearing was underway, hundreds of families, staff, and alumni of Immanuel Schools packed the sidewalks demanding their school stay open for in-person classes.
The faith-based K-12 school has been open for nearly two weeks despite Fresno County calling it a public health threat.
Judge Tharpe ruled against the county because he said they didn’t provide evidence that proved irreparable and immediate harm. The county will now build their case for the next hearing on Sept. 15.
“I’m praying this means other schools can reopen so that’s really the hope that this will keep happening and schools will open so that teachers can be back with students and they can flourish in school,” said Jessica Vidder, a parent of an Immanuel Schools student.
“Obviously the health department wants to get students in school as fast as we can, this is more likely to delay that than speed it up,” said the County Counsel Daniel Cederborg.
Immanuel Schools argued the order was unconstitutional, claiming the school could have herd immunity because many students who were out sick early this year tested positive for antibodies. The county says the data doesn’t support their claim.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean you are immune from future infections, we just don’t know enough about these antibodies were detecting in patients actually mean,” said Interim Health Officer Dr. Raid Vohra.
Immanuel Schools has also filed a lawsuit in the California Supreme Court arguing the orders are unconstitutional.