Free Press Columnist Nancy Kaffer on Michigan’s School Mask Mandate Politics


Many districts in Michigan will start school next week. Many parents who hoped the next in-person school year would be a step towards normalcy now have serious concerns about the delta variant of COVID-19 and the safety of their children.

One of these parents is Detroit Free Press journalist Nancy kaffer. She joined Michigan Radio Morning edition to talk about the policy of masks and vaccines mandates at the start of the school year.

Kaffer has a 10-year-old son who is too young to be vaccinated. She wrote about how difficult it was for him during virtual school, to be out of the classroom and away from his friends. Despite concerns about the Delta variant, Kaffer says her son has had good experiences with masking in summer camps, and she is relying on the same at school.

“A lot of superintendents and school officials really feel like they’re alone here. A lot of them don’t really feel qualified to make these public health decisions.”

“I still have hope for school this fall. It’s not going to be normal, but I think it’s going to be more normal than last year and a half, and that’s positive.”

Kaffer lives in a district where there is a school mask warrant, but Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has not issued a statewide warrant for K-12 schools. This is despite the fact that Michigan’s Chief Medical Director, Dr Joneigh Khaldun, recommended one, as have almost all public health agencies and organizations across the country.

“A lot of superintendents and school officials really feel like they’re alone here. They were used to more deliberate pandemic orders from the state. A lot of them don’t really feel qualified to make these health decisions. public and they would like more advice, ”Kaffer said.

“Of course, part of that is political. You have a lot of angry anti-masking parents who have been very successful at dominating the conversation. I think you have a much larger midsection of parents who are really for a mitigation. sensitive to COVID measures and want their kids to go to school. I think parents like that kind of avoiding this public conversation, kind of like a comment section in a newspaper. They don’t want to get into the fray because it is often very unpleasant. ”

Some parents feel the school year puts them in another impossible COVID-19 situation, choosing between risk and reward. But Kaffer remains more optimistic.

“Last year some schools were open in person all year round, and we learned that schools weren’t the centers of spread that many of us feared. I think we’ve learned what works. And if we do these things, I don’t think it must be impossible. The problem is… most districts don’t require a mask warrant right now, ”she said.

“What I hear from parents is really different depending on what type of district you are in. If you are a district where there are mask mandates, where they have been very outspoken about wanting teachers to be vaccinated, where they “talk about mitigation, I think there is a greater degree of confidence. But parents who are in school districts where there are no mass mandates are panicking.”

Read more about Nancy Kaffer in the Detroit Free Press:


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