The Orange County Board of Education has sent a public letter to Governor Gavin Newsom, asking for him to end the state of emergency in California that now threatens to stretch into a third year.
The state of emergency, which was initially declared by Newsom on March 4, 2020 under the state’s Emergency Services Act, was implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the Orange County Board of Education argues that the emergency order has been allowed to continue longer than is legally permitted.
According to the Emergency Services Act, the governor of California is empowered to implement a state of emergency, but is also obligated to end the state of emergency as soon as conditions warrant. The Board argues “the emergency suspension of normal government functioning” within the state of California “can no longer be justified.”
The letter goes on to say that “it is becoming increasingly clear that Covid-19 cannot be eradicated. We will have to live with it, as we live with other viruses. It is also clear that the state of emergency that existed last March no longer exists. And it cannot last forever.”
However, the letter goes one step further than making a public request of Newsom: it vows litigation.
In August, the Board filed a petition with the California Supreme Court asking it to end the state of emergency. Although the petition was denied, the most recent letter vows that if Newsom does not end the state of emergency soon, the Board will pursue further legal action.
The letter was signed by Board President Mari Barke who has actively advocated for school opening and lessening restrictions.
The Orange County Board of Education is not the only local government entity that has taken steps to end COVID-related emergency orders. Last June, Newport Beach became the first city in Orange County to end its own citywide state of emergency.