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Lawsuit: Private School in Lansing, Michigan Pushes Back Against Health Department Mandates

— October 30, 2020

Resurrection School in Lansing, Michigan is suing the state health department and others of what it claims are excessive COVID-19 mandates.

A lawsuit was filed earlier this week by Resurrection School in Michigan over claims the COVOD-19 mandates issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ingham County Health Department are unreasonable and excessive when it comes to schoolchildren. According to the lawsuit, children as young as kindergarteners “should not have to sit in a classroom for up to seven hours a day wearing a mask to stop the spread of COVID-10.”

Hand sanitizer and a face mask
Hand sanitizer and a face mask; image courtesy of Tai’s Captures via Unsplash,

Lawyers representing the small school noted that Resurrection School has gone to great lengths to “deter the spread of COVID-19 in their small, non-public school in Lansing.” Nevertheless, “health officials require elementary school children to wear masks…The breadth and scope of the challenged orders are shocking…The excessive or unreasonable mandated wearing of a face mask has become a symbol of oppression and an attempt by the government to control the citizenry,” the suit states.

The lawsuit was filed in Grand Rapids federal court by the school and the parents of four students. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Ingham County Health Department are named as defendants. In addition, the suit calls out Governor Gretchen Whitmer for her 192 executive orders that were issued to combat the spread of COVID-19. Since the Michigan Supreme Court struck down many of her orders, Whitmer has turned to the state health department to “continue to mandate more unilateral and draconian orders that reorder social life,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit states, “the mandates add up to seven additional hours of continuous masking for students as young as five years old.” Earlier this week, the school asked a federal judge to “step in and allow the school to operate without having to enforce health department mask rules for kids in grades K-5 when the children are seated at their desks in their elementary school classrooms, socially distanced.” 

When commenting on the lawsuit, Lynn Sutfin, a spokesperson for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said the “agency is confident that the epidemic order is lawful.” She added:

“MDHHS Director Robert Gordon issued the order under a different law than the law invalidated by the Michigan Supreme Court. The law under which Director Gordon acted was enacted by the Michigan Legislature specifically to deal with epidemics.’’

Attorneys with the Great Lakes Justice Center and the American Freedom Law Center are representing the plaintiffs and pushed back against the state health department. They said, “students and schools across Michigan have engaged in in-person classroom education since August of 2020, with extensive health and safety protocols in place.” Additionally, “Resurrection School has operated under an approved plan, successfully deterring the spread of COVID-19,” according to the suit. The lawsuit further states:

“The health department regulations require kids to wear masks regardless of whether the children are safely distanced from one another and regardless of how the mandate affects the children’s ability to learn and fully engage in religious education…The health department orders violate fundamental liberties protected by the United States and Michigan Constitutions and they violate Michigan law…Resurrection School adheres to strict protocols, including social distancing, frequent sanitation and continuous monitoring of the students and family’s health…To date, Resurrection School has avoided any outbreaks within its school due to following this strict protocol.”

U.S. District Court Judge Paul L. Maloney was assigned the case.


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