Mask mandate policy blindsides Walled Lake parents hours before first day of school

Posted at 5:57 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 18:12:23-04

WALLED LAKE, Mich. (WXYZ) — The first bell of the school year rang at Walled Lake schools this morning, but some students went to bed thinking they wouldn't have to wear a mask in school.

Just last night the Oakland County Health Department announced students and faculty would have to wear masks in all facilities.

RELATED:Dozens gather outside Oakland County Health Department to protest school mask mandate

"We re-enrolled our kids, we re-registered them, we bought all their school supplies, and told them that they were going to school; that they didn't have to wear masks," said Jody Drewry, a parent. "And the night before when we're putting them to bed everything changes."

On Monday, Drewry and other Walled Lake parents received an email stating COVID cases within district borders were less than 0.5%.

Drewry says, frankly, the county's guidance is confusing and unenforceable.

"This morning when the bus came to pick him, up you could see clearly in the back they are not wearing their masks," Drewry said, "Who's enforcing that? Is the bus driver going to stop the bus and turn around and tell them to put their masks on?"

The Oakland county health department says by and large superintendents were glad the decision came from health experts and not from them.

Officials in Walled Lake say they'll ease into the mandate.

"The mandate came out we are ready to move," said Dr. Ken Guttman, "we are going to show some grace this morning we know parents just found out about this last night."

Jennifer Hart says her kids go to school in Oxford and when she heard the news she could finally breathe again.

"Our immediate reaction was just relief, honestly," Hart said.

Hart says mandating masks will help mitigate community and it's a small price to pay for safety.

"My number one goal is for my son to be learning in class with his teacher," Hart said. If him wearing a mask and all his classmates wearing a mask means fewer kids are sick and fewer kids are quarantining, that's more kids in the classroom learning.

"A little grace period is allowable, but I don't think any school should have issues implementing the health order during the school year," she added.

The Oakland County Health Department says schools will be responsible for enforcing this mandate.

A spokesperson from the Walled Lake school district did not give me a clear answer on whether teachers will be making sure their students are masked up, but they did say right now they're focused on getting all the necessary information out to parents.