Federal Judge Blocks Beshear’s Mask Mandate For Schools, KDE Mandate Stands
A federal judge temporarily blocked Gov. Andy Beshear’s mask mandate for K-12 schools Thursday, saying the executive order violates laws passed by the General Assembly this spring that limited the governor’s emergency powers.
“The Executive Branch cannot simply ignore laws passed by the duly-elected representatives of the citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Therein lies tyranny,” Judge William Bertelsman wrote in his opinion.
The ruling means private schools will not have to require masks. However, a separate mask mandate from the Kentucky Department of Education means masks are still required in public schools.
Bertelsman sided with two Northern Kentucky parents, Jason and Karen Oswald, whose children attend St. Joseph Elementary School, a Catholic school in the Archdiocese of Covington. The Oswalds claim Beshear violated their First Amendment right to freedom of religion when he instituted the mandate.
The laws Bertelsman draws on in his decision are themselves currently blocked. Franklin Circuit Court judge Judge Phillip Shepherd issued a temporary injunction blocking parts of those laws in March, siding with Beshear in his challenge.
Bertelsman is the same judge who struck down Beshear’s travel ban in May 2020.