Letter to Gov. Whitmer, Director Hertel: Please require masks in schools, at least until all students are vaccinated

Dear Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and Director Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services,

My children attend Lake Orion Schools. Contrary to your recommendations, and those of the CDC and Oakland County Health Department, our administration has announced that masks will be optional in our school buildings this fall. I am pleading with you to impose a universal mask mandate for K-12 public schools in Michigan, at least until kids under 12 can get vaccinated.

Data published by MDHHS last week says without masks or screening testing, up to 90 percent of our susceptible students may get Covid this semester. Masking in schools reduces projected infections by 40 percent to 75 percent.

Our administration says parents with safety concerns should simply have their own children wear masks. However, medical experts say masks are more protective of others than the wearer. And parents who don’t believe in masks are more likely to be unvaccinated, and less cautious about Covid safety measures generally. So, their children are at greater risk of contracting and spreading Covid.

The district’s virtual program, which they claim follows the standard curriculum, has one combined class for third and fourth graders. Middle and high school students are not offered the same electives. The program requires a full academic year commitment. Plus, it is not feasible for many working families. So, although it’s an option for families with safety concerns, it’s a poor one.

Twice the district has announced mask policies that violate state or federal regulations. First, when it made masks optional for its summer programs while the MDHHS mask order was still in effect. Second, when it failed to require masks on buses, in violation of a CDC order that remains in effect.

The district suggests, without evidence, that most parents oppose a mask mandate. Even if that’s true, since when are public safety guidelines subject to popular opinion?

So far, our Board of Education has not voted on this issue, even as other school boards across our county continue to do so.

If it is not the role of the federal government, the governor, the state health department, the county health department, the school board or the school administration to mandate common sense measures to help keep our children safe in our schools, then please let me know who I should contact with these concerns.

Very Truly Yours,

Jessica Hallmark

Lake Orion

 

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