JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Jefferson County Public Health is seeking a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to force three religious schools in the county to comply with COVID-19 safety regulations. There are two parts to this: the first is requiring all students, teachers and others to wear masks in school and the second is allowing public health inspectors into the school buildings.

(credit: CBS)

Carrying American flags and signs that read “Freedom Not Force” and “JCPH Uses Kids As Political Pawns,” supporters of the religious schools gathered outside the courthouse in prayer before the hearing started.

READ MORE: Colorado Weather: Fire Danger Ahead Of Next Storm System

“I pray for wisdom for those who think they are doing the right thing. The science is not there,” one woman said with tears.

They were protesting Jefferson County seeking a court order to force mask compliance at Faith Christian Academy, the Augustine Classical Academy and Beth Eden Baptist School.

Patti Cabrera, a religious schools supporter said the children should not be forced to wear masks, “There is a reason we are keeping them out of the public school realm, it means we aren’t happy with what’s happening there.”

Health inspectors visited the schools and found violations or were not immediately permitted inside.

(credit: CBS)

The courtroom was packed. People with their children were sitting on the floor. Judge Randall Arp announced masks are required in the court and to be worn properly.

READ MORE: Deadly Hit & Run At I-70 And Pecos Street Under Investigation

“Ma’am put it up over your nose or you can step out,” Arp announced.

The attorney for Faith Academy tried to show the school attempted to comply with the mask rules. Augustine Classical Academy sent an email to parents that only parents can act on behalf of a child and Beth Eden’s lawyer told Judge Arp they are now in compliance with the mask order.

Outside, people like Jim Macguire demonstrated against the county, “You have anyone going to other school districts enforcing it? These people believe in Christ, they are going to put their faith in something other than the government.”

The county insists the mask rule is to slow the spread of COVID-19. The school supporters call it a matter of freedom.

(credit: CBS)

Macguire added, “You are going to see some biblical stuff, that is going to be a beautiful thing to watch… it’s going to be justice.”

MORE NEWS: Jackknifed Semi That Took Out Guardrail In Icy Conditions Led To I-70 Closure

Only one witness was on the stand for day one of the hearing, Jefferson County Public Health Executive Director Dr. Dawn Comstock. The hearing will continue Wednesday.

Rick Sallinger