HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) — For well more than a year, the science has been clear: masks are effective at limiting the spread of COVID-19.
But still, in more than half of the schools throughout our state, parents are sending their children to classrooms where masks are optional.
“I’m putting the responsibility on my child to wear a mask instead of our superintendents or our health department to put an order in,” said Amy Williamson, whose daughter attends Hartland Consolidated Schools. “We’re putting it in the hands of an eight-year-old, and I don’t think that’s fair. “
Her daughter is a student at Lakes Elementary, where masks are not required. Class has been in session for not even two months and already, her daughter has been quarantined three times due to outbreaks in class.
“I am fortunate that my mother is around, but do I want my kid that’s on quarantine that possibly has COVID around my elderly mother?” Williamson asked. “Probably not.”
This week, a new study conducted by epidemiologists at the University of Michigan added to the already mounting evidence showing that masks limit the spread of COVID-19.
“The increase was much greater in schools where there wasn’t a mask mandate and kids were not wearing masks, compared to those schools were kids were wearing mask,” said Dr. Joseph Eisenberg, a U-M epidemiologist.
The study, which compared schools requiring masks with those that don’t, found 62% greater spread at schools without a mandate.
Eisenberg called masks in schools “a public health benefit.”
The study was led by Dr. Marisa Eisenberg, who is not related to Dr. Joseph Eisenberg.
At Hartland Consolidated Schools, a recent letter from Superintendent Chuck Hughes disclosed that more than 400 students were in quarantine since last week.
A school employee said Hughes was not in today and unavailable for comment. Despite a request, no other district employees returned our calls.
Dr. Eisenberg says that, while it’s not popular, the state would be better off with a statewide mask mandate in schools, but stresses that it would be temporary.
“I think we are nearing the endgame, it’s hard to say when that is,” Eisenberg said. “But we really are concerned about this winter period. This is a critical period for us to be really paying attention to.”