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The Orange County Board of Education’s legal battle to reopen school campuses for in-person learning gained steam this week when the state Supreme Court ordered Gov. Gavin Newsom to defend his executive authority to keep students at home during the pandemic.

The court compelled Newsom to respond to two legal petitions questioning the constitutionality of a July 17 mandate that ordered schools in counties on a statewide coronavirus watchlist to resume distance learning in the 2020-21 school year.

One of the documents filed Friday by Murrieta-based law firm Tyler & Bursch represents the Board of Education, an Anaheim public charter school and three public school parents. A second filed at the same time speaks on behalf of private-school petitioners.

Newsom “recently ushered in a new wave of COVID-19 restrictions which bar in-person schooling for most children in California,” the public-school petition states.

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