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Wisconsin Supreme Court halts Dane County school order

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court has temporarily blocked an order that prevented most students in Dane County from attending school in person, restrictions issued by health leaders to help control the spread of the coronavirus.

The court, a 4-3 vote, agreed Thursday night to hear a lawsuit challenging the Public Health Madison and Dane County order. The court’s conservative justices were in favor of hearing the case, while more liberal justices opposed.

The county’s order issued Aug. 21 required students in grades 3-12 be taught online. Three groups of religious schools and parents asked the Supreme Court to take the case directly and it agreed. The court issued a temporary injunction on the county’s order, which means schools across the county can open immediately.

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi derided the court’s decision, saying it comes as the COVID-19 pandemic “hits a new peak in this community.”

The majority agreed with the challengers’ argument that local health officers don’t have the statutory authority to close schools, unlike a similar ability given to the state Department of Health Services, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Newly reported coronavirus cases in Wisconsin logged their highest single-day total on Thursday, with 1,547. Nearly a third of those were in Dane County.

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