GOP Michigan school board members fail to vote to ban masks

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A Republican effort to dissuade Michigan schools from requiring masks backfired on Tuesday when Democrats instead adopted language that supports districts imposing such mandates.

The vote followed outrage, tears and three hours of public commentary – mostly against the mask warrants.

The Michigan Board of Education members’ passion for the issue does not match their authority.

“We don’t have the ability to impose a mask warrant any more than we do to ban a mask warrant from the State Council or the State Department,” said Superintendent Michael F. Rice.

Dexter’s Republican Nikki Snyder, who opposes the mask and vaccine warrants, said non-binding resolutions were still important.

“We are constantly discussing issues for which we do not have the power to write policies or laws. [about] but our statements matter. They make the difference, ”she said.

The board voted 6-2 along party lines to replace Republican Tom McMillin’s proposed ban on mask mandates with a statement supporting the “ability of local districts to make scientifically informed decisions, including mask warrants “.

In the same party line vote, the board rejected McMillin’s other two resolutions. Schools have reportedly been discouraged from penalizing, segregating or quarantining unvaccinated students. The other reportedly urged school districts to stop COVID testing.

Earlier, Snyder cried as she told the board she was suspicious of the federal government‘s ability to regulate vaccines because, she said, a drug she took during pregnancy caused birth defects in her children.

Dozens of parents showed up – most of them virtually – to comment on the mask and vaccine warrants. Almost all of them opposed it.

Among their arguments: Masks are uncomfortable. They create a false sense of protection against disease. They create an irrational fear of germs. They make it difficult for children who speak English as a second language. They inhibit social interactions. Wearing them should be a personal choice.

A mother from the Grand Blanc said the masks exacerbated her daughter’s social anxiety.

“She doesn’t know how to deal with people because she can’t see them. She doesn’t know what they are thinking and feeling, ”she told the board of directors via loudspeaker.

Council officials were unable to provide the full names of commentators who participated remotely.

Another mother, from Rochester Hills, supports the mask warrants.

“The negative effects of [the delta variant] over our children far outweigh any inconvenience of wearing a mask, and masks, we know, work best when everyone is wearing them, ”she said. “A parent who chooses not to have their child wear a mask means my child is less protected. “

The debate over mask warrants rages across the country. Illinois Governor JB Pritzker appointed them. In Florida, Democratic mayors disagree with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis who has threatened to halt funding for districts that require masks. New York and Denver require masks in schools. And places like Tennessee are implementing a patchwork of policies.

McMillin, of Oakland Township, said almost everyone he has spoken to thinks it is abusive to require children to wear masks all day.

People are “rising up across the state. They want to be heard. It is child abuse, which is done to their children, and it is serious, ”he said.

Democrat Pamela Pugh bristled.

“If the masks are child abuse, then Halloween masks are child abuse. Let’s not start saying masks are child abuse, ”said Pugh of Saginaw.

Pugh later accused Snyder and McMillin of supporting policies that put lives at risk.

“Our children must wear masks, not only to protect themselves but to protect others,” she said. “Do you want to take away the protection they have?” You are killing our children. It’s yours.


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