A COVID-19 virus control battle is heating up in Ottawa County. A lot of people are caught up in the mess. A faith-based school in Hudsonville claims the Ottawa County Department of Public Health is harassing the school staff and threatening to throw them in jail. The Libertas Christian School has filed a federal lawsuit challenging the county’s enforcement efforts on behalf of the state.

The department late last week issued what it is characterizing as its final cease and desist order against Libertas. County health officers are demanding school administrators need to work closely with them to slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus among students and staff at the small private school and the community. The County claims health department officers have made repeated attempts to work with the school due to what it claims is an ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. The department is claiming the school is refusing to require students and staff to wear face masks or maintain state required social distancing of 6 feet or more. It’s a dispute between the school and the county that has been going on for several weeks now. School administrators counter there is no virus outbreak at the school.

Ian Northon with the Rhoades McKee law firm in Grand Rapids is the lead attorney for Libertas. He filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Libertas more than a week ago. The lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing at mid-week in the courtroom of U.S. District Court Judge Paul Maloney. In an email to Michigan media outlets, Norton says, “The County has shut down the religious activities of more than 250 healthy people without basis in fact or law. The County is not following the CDC or the state’s own guidance in the face of detailed medical records—the very definition of arbitrary and capricious behavior. We look forward to vindicating Libertas in court and setting its parents and students free from further religious animus or harassment by County and state officials.”

The lawsuit filed on behalf of Libertas claims the state, through the county health department enforcement efforts, is trying to force students as young as kindergarteners to wear masks at all times, including while in their classrooms, during outdoor playtimes, and while in the school chapel.

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