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Sat Oct 3, 2020, 09:44 AM

Judge rebuffs bid to ease pandemic limits at private schools in New Mexico

Source: Associated Press

Judge rebuffs bid to ease pandemic limits at private schools

By MORGAN LEE
October 3, 2020

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) A federal judge has turned down an initial request to ease pandemic-related occupancy limits for in-person instruction at private schools in New Mexico, in a setback for a lawsuit supported by the U.S. Justice Department.

In a Friday order, U.S. District Court Judge William Johnson cast doubt on the complaint from the father of a seventh grade prep school student in Albuquerque who has only engaged in online learning during the pandemic due to provisions of a statewide public health order.

Plaintiffs say the health order unfairly limits in-person learning at private schools to 25% of maximum room capacity, while public schools can apply to reopen under separate guidelines at 50%. To date, only a portion of elementary schools have been cleared to restart in-person instruction.

Johnson rejected a preliminary injunction request and noted that some private schools have managed to reboot in-person instruction by expanding into areas such as gymnasiums and cafeterias, while all 7-12 grade public schools are still cut off from in-person learning.

But he said private school students would have a better argument concerning equal protection rights and likely prevail in court if public 7-12 grade schools proceed with returning to classrooms at 50% occupancy.

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Read more: https://apnews.com/article/virus-outbreak-pandemics-public-health-albuquerque-courts-37db511aa9b3089f426f60ed26cc4bcc

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