Michigan Board of Education Votes to Let Schools Mask or Not Mask

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Michigan’s board of education passed a resolution Tuesday evening allowing individual school districts to either adopt or reject masking for students and staff to prevent COVID-19’s spread.

The Democrat-run board adopted the resolution instead of another offered by the panel’s two Republican members, Tom McMillin (R-Oakland Township) and Nikki Snyder (R-Dexter), who wanted a statewide policy against district mask mandates.

“Certainly if people choose to [wear masks] that’s fine,” McMillin said in anticipation of the vote. “We’ve heard of all the horrible consequences that are being done to children, and parents aren’t going to sit by and just let this happen when we know the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)] said that [COVID] is less problematic [for children] than the flu — before they removed it a couple months ago, but for eight months they said that. I don’t think the settled science changed. I think they just had a lot of pressure … I just hope that we vote this down and continue listening to the parents.”

An online statement by the CDC does indicate, “For young children, especially children younger than 5 years old, the risk of serious complications is higher for flu compared with COVID-19.”

Speaking after McMillin, Snyder spoke on some of the negative consequences of masks to which her colleague alluded. She mentioned hearing from parents who have autistic children or deaf children who “need access to teachers with full facial expression.”

Pamela Pugh (D-Saginaw), who authored the resolution that was ultimately adopted by the board, responded by accusing McMillin of “killing families” through his public statements.

Parents who called in for public comment were mostly opposed to requiring masks. The board’s resolution leaving decisions on mask mandates to each school district nevertheless passed over McMillin and Snyder’s “no” votes. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has publicly urged school districts across the Great Lake State to require masks for all school staff and attendees. She has raised the specter of more forced remote learning in the event that masking is resisted. Students will need to wear masks on school buses this autumn, however.

Despite much official alarm that coronavirus infections are rising in Michigan, the seven-day moving average of daily new deaths is in single digits and has been for well over a month, according to the widely cited data aggregator worldometers.info.

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Bradley Vasoli is a reporter at The Michigan Star and The Star News Network. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].

 

 

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