Manchester teachers & staff say mask fights led to hostile working environment

Posted at 5:31 PM, Oct 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 17:31:41-04

MANCHESTER, Mich. (WXYZ) — It is a topic that has divided families, communities, and even our nation. We are talking about masks.

Now, the fighting has gotten so intense in Manchester Community Schools that teachers and staff have filed a complaint, saying it has created a hostile working environment.

The letter makes numerous complaints.

It says parents & board members are encouraging students to violate the Washtenaw County Health Department’s Mask Mandate Order and are refusing to wear masks. Students are destroying school property, stuffing toilets with masks. Parents are threatening teachers, leading to them using the buddy system to get to cars safely.

“There’s certainly threats and bullying that has been happening and this is not unique to Manchester. We have seen at school board meetings across the state threats being made against board members, administrators, and educators,” said Doug Pratt, MEA Director of Public Affairs.

Pratt says grievances have been filed to try to help teachers at Manchester Community Schools.

The school board president says he wants teachers to know they’re being listened to.

“They all would like to have a normal school day, be with their kids, teach them. A lot of them have been here for decades,” said Ryan Novess, School Board President.

“I have been greeting students at the door personally, with masks, ensuring compliance,” said Superintendent Brad Bezeau.

Bezeau says he understands where teachers are coming from. He says the district has had to call law enforcement to report threats, has had to give students detentions and suspensions over masks.

He says he understands student frustration with the health department’s mandate coming after school started without masks, but they need to follow the rules.

“Students that were used to that choice really saw the Washtenaw County Health Department lawful orders an infringement on that choice,” said Bezeau.

Angie Fuller’s son is a student at Manchester High School. She says she doesn’t like mask mandates, but that parental protests have become disruptive to classes.

“It is what the Washtenaw County health department recommends. So everybody fighting, it is hurting our kids,” said Fuller.

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