Grosse Pointe Schools board member proposes dropping mask mandate, defying county order

Posted at 5:49 AM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-19 12:29:24-05

(WXYZ) — The debate over masks in schools is back in the spotlight. Two metro Detroit districts are debating if they should defy county mask mandates.

It comes as outbreaks continue to hit schools across the state extremely hard. On Monday, the state reported 104 new school-related COVID-19 outbreaks, including outbreaks in all six counties emcompassing metro Detroit

One of the districts considering defying the mask mandate is Grosse Pointe Schools.

Board member Lisa Papas introduced a proposal that would effectively challenge the legality of the Wayne County mask mandate.

Parents sounded off on Monday night as the debate took center stage at the school board meeting.

Some parents, like Tom Torrento who is also a teacher, say it's too early to drop the mandate.

"As the parent of a nervous 10-year-old girl who has repeatedly said that without people wearing a mask, she will not go to school because she doesn't feel safe," he said.

One mother says both of her kids are vaccinated but says it should be up to the parents when it comes to masking and the vaccine.

"Getting vaccinated and wearing masks should be completely optional for all. If you want to get vaccinated, great. If you don't, great, that's your choice. If you want to wear a mask, great do so. if you don't you should not be forced to do so," Barb Peberdy said.

While some counties in Michigan have dropped the mandate for schools, others have not.

Some parents and Papas cited the recent budget signed into effect a month ago had language drafted by state Republicans that schools could lose funding with emergency health orders that were not approved at the local level.

"I know that there's absolutely, in every community, there's a division on this issue. I acknowledge that and I know no matter what decision we make on this resolution, there are people that are not going to agree with it," Papas said.

Since Nov. 1, the Grosse Pointe School District has seen 22 new COVID-19 cases among staff and students, but has not needed to shut down all year because of COVID-19 or lack of staff.

Some board members challenged Papas saying if they drop the mandate, it could jeopardize in-person learning.

The board is expected to take a vote in two weeks.

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