LANSING, Michigan — A federal appeals court on Wednesday dismissed a Catholic school’s challenge to Michigan’s 2020-21 mask order.

The Whitmer administration policy during the COVID-19 pandemic was dropped about a year ago, making the lawsuit moot, the court said.

The appeal was heard by 17 judges at the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It was a rare step; most appeals are heard by three-judge panels.

Resurrection School in Lansing and some parents sued in 2020, saying a state mask order violated the free exercise of religion, among other objections. A federal judge, however, ruled in favor of the state and declined to suspend the policy with an injunction.

The statewide mask order ended in June 2021. Any subsequent school mask mandates came from local health departments.

“This dispute is therefore moot unless there is a decent chance that the (state) will not only impose a new mask mandate, but also roughly stick to the exceptions in the old one,” Judge Raymond Kethledge wrote. “And that prospect is exceedingly remote given all that has happened in the year or so since the state rescinded its mandate.”