Friday, August 20, 2021

Macomb County parents urge local leaders to enact a mask mandate in schools

Posted By on Fri, Aug 20, 2021 at 11:55 AM

click to enlarge Macomb County parents are calling on local officials to enact a mask mandate for students as COVID-19 cases increase among children. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • Macomb County parents are calling on local officials to enact a mask mandate for students as COVID-19 cases increase among children.

More than 1,000 parents joined forces to call on Macomb County officials to enact a mask mandate for schools to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

The group, Macomb County Parents for Safe in Person School, sent a letter Thursday to school, government and health leaders in hopes of convincing them to require masks before the start of the school year.

The letter, which was addressed to the Macomb Intermediate School District, the Macomb County Health Department, and Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel, includes endorsements from more than 40 local doctors, nurses, psychologists, businesses, organizations, and a law firm.

“Masks are a proven mitigation strategy to reduce the spread of Covid-19,” the letter states. “If we don’t utilize masks and other health protocols, we can expect constant quarantines or even a full shut down of some Macomb County Schools, which will require us to return to a remote learning situation. We recognize the hardship remote learning puts on working parents, teachers, and children. We must do everything in our power to keep the spread at a minimum and give our children a safe learning environment in school.”

The plea to county officials comes as an alarming number of children are getting infected and hospitalized with COVID-19, filling up pediatric wings in some hospitals.

Proponents of mask mandates are facing opposition from conservatives who say parents should decide whether their children wear face coverings. On Tuesday, a Republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would bar school districts from requiring students to wear masks.

On Wednesday, anti-maskers booed and hurled insults at the Birmingham Board of Education for approving a mask mandate for students. A man in the audience flashed a Nazi salute and chanted “Heil Hitler” as a Black woman and Jewish woman stood at a podium in support of masks.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration is allowing school districts to decide on mask mandates. Many school districts haven't yet decided whether they're going to require masks. Detroit Public Schools Community District was one of the first to require students and staff to wear masks.

Emily Mellits, a lead organizer for the mask mandates in Macomb County, said face coverings are especially important for children who are too young to get vaccinated.

“Being that our youngest children are not yet eligible for vaccination, they are currently the most vulnerable population,” Mellits said. “To remove the one effective mitigation strategy that can protect them, is unacceptable. When McDonalds is taking more precautions than our schools, there is a huge problem.”

The group warned of the cascading impact on the community if students aren’t required to wear masks.

“We know that when community transmission is high, everyone is affected," the group states. “Businesses will see less customers as people are home sick or their children are home doing remote learning. Our already exhausted and overstretched health systems will see another surge. We must implement mask and safety protocols in the K-12 system in order to give our communities, our businesses, and our health systems as strong a chance as possible in fighting this latest surge.”

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