(WXYZ) — The debate over mask and vaccine mandates for Michigan public schools is raging on. It's an issue that has divided communities across the state, and now, the State Senate is pushing for parents to have a voice.
On Tuesday, the Republican-controlled Michigan Senate passed a series of bills aimed at banning any kind of requirements for students to wear masks or be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The expectation is Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is going to shoot this down because she's done that in the past with other laws aimed at banning mask and vaccine mandates.
Democrats say this decision goes against science but Republicans say it's about freedom and choice.
"It's unfortunate that the legislator wants to keep politicizing this pandemic," Whitmer said.
A package with four proposals passed along party lines Tuesday that could dismantle any control public health agencies have on COVID-19 mitigation efforts.
Republican State Sen. Tom Barrett says it's a relief to see this legislation pass and it will likely clear up confusion.
"That's why we need legislation that protects and defines clearly, draws a line in the sand and says these are our rights as parents that the government cannot cross," he said.
In addition to stopping mandates in schools, one of the bills would also ban statewide emergency orders that require students to wear masks while also banning mandatory COVID-19 testing for asymptomatic cases.
This is a win for area parents who've long protested the mandates, but there are still plenty feeling defeated.
"All of those layers need to be in place in order to keep the COVID-19 spread low enough where our kids aren't constantly being disrupted with quarantines and school closures," Nicole Kessler said.
While Whitmer has hesitated to issue a statewide mask or vaccine mandate, she continues to stress the importance of keeping the coronavirus under control.
"It's hurt too many people and that's why we have to keep moving forward and making sure that people have the tools they need to stay safe," she said.
a University of Michigan study showed that Michigan schools without mask mandates had 61 percent more COVID-19 cases than schools that did require masks.
A local example would be to compare Oakland County, which has a school mask mandate, and Macomb County, which does not currently have one. Macomb is dealing with more outbreaks.
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