Children’s rights group calls on all Michigan school boards to issue mask warrants

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More Michigan school districts and counties have announced mask warrants as COVID-19 cases and child hospitalizations increase with the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. Children under 12 are not yet eligible to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Michigan’s Children, a Lansing-based nonprofit that advocates for children and families, on Wednesday urged all 891 school boards in the state to “do their jobs and take action to keep the school safe through the effective wearing of masks by students and staff ”to ensure safety at the start of the 2021-22 school year.

The group notes that 1.4 million schoolchildren are returning to class “against a politically charged landscape and growing infections from the deadly coronavirus”.

Large school districts with mask mandates include Detroit, Lansing, and Grand Rapids.

“Non-partisan and locally elected school board members have the greatest responsibility for establishing policies that protect the well-being and health of our children during school hours. Politics aside, they hold the safety of our children in their hands, and we count on them to act with wisdom and courage, ”said President and CEO Matt Gillard.

Michigan does not have a statewide mask mandate for schools, unlike several other states including California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York , Oregon, Virginia and Washington. Dr Joneigh Khaldun, the state’s medical director and deputy director of health, encouraged Governor Gretchen Whitmer to publish one. Whitmer said this week that she supports school boards demanding masks in schools.

According to CDC guidelines, residents of 81 of Michigan’s 83 counties as of Wednesday should hide indoors or outdoors when social distancing is not possible due to high or substantial transmission. of COVID-19. Only Oscoda and Missaukee are in the moderate level.

On Tuesday evening, the Oakland County Health Division issued an emergency health ordinance requiring face masks in elementary, secondary, secondary and vocational schools and daycares, regardless of immunization status, to prevent the spread of the disease. COVID-19. There are 28 school districts in Michigan’s second most populous county, and the order also applies to charter schools.

“Our top priority is keeping students in school for in-person learning. Masking is one of the best defenses against increased transmission of COVID and higher rates of hospitalization in children,” said Dave Coulter, Oakland County Director. “This command allows teachers to get back to educating our students and focus on their success.”

Allegan, Genesee, Kent, Ottawa and Kalamazoo counties also have school mask mandates. However, state officials Thomas Albert (R-Lowell), Mark Huizenga (R-Walker), Steven Johnson (R-Wayland) and Bryan Posthumus (R-Cannon Twp.) Have threatened to withdraw funding from the Ministry of Kent County Health on the school mask mandate.

Michigan’s Children notes that many district boards have issued mask requirements even “when political pressure and opposition have been organized and vigorously mounted.”

“It has to be a comprehensive approach to ensure that all children, those who are immunocompromised and those under 12 who are not yet vaccinated, remain disease free,” said Gillard. “Health officials tell us that anything less will lead to unnecessary infections of children as well as continued and widespread school closures that negatively interfere with student education. Nobody wants that.”

Michigan Advance is part of States Newsroom, a network of news offices supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c (3) public charity. Michigan Advance retains editorial independence. Contact editor Susan Demas with any questions: [email protected] Follow Michigan Advance on Facebook and Twitter.


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