"In the most recent executive order regarding schools, every school is treated equally and each is asked to do its part over a limited period of time to slow the spread of the virus. The effectiveness of these actions requires everyone to take part, and anyone or any entity that tries to be the exception lessens the effectiveness of the steps," he added.
Bursch pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in late November, which ruled that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's restrictions on religious services during the coronavirus pandemic were a violation of the First Amendment's protection of free religious exercise.
"As the U.S. Supreme Court said in its recent order halting Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive order in New York, 'even in a pandemic,' the First Amendment is not 'put away and forgotten," Bursch stated.
The federal appeals court which ruled to uphold Beshear's order said that the case was "distinguishable" from Cuomo's order, since the Kentucky order applied to both religious and public schools, the Courier Journal reported.
The case also comes shortly after the four bishops of Kentucky announced in late November that they will continue holding in-person Masses, despite Beshear's order for all places of worship to halt in-person services until Dec. 13.
Schools throughout the United States have grappled with what to do about in-person learning after the coronavirus pandemic caused nationwide shutdowns last March. Though the country saw a dip in coronavirus cases over the summer, recent surges this fall, shortly after classes resumed, have caused some schools to close again, and some states to reinstate lockdowns or stay-at-home orders.
Catholic schools have worked to put extensive health and safety regulations in place, including mandatory masking and social distancing, and virtual options for families who choose to keep their children at home. Some Catholic school leaders and bishops have argued that children have a right to in-person learning, which can help to ensure the quality of their education and to prevent their social isolation.
Some Catholic schools, such as those in Baltimore, have seen spikes in enrollment this fall because they are offering in-person learning more consistently than area public schools.