To Whom it May Concern,
I am the mother of a seven year old daughter and nine year old son who are enrolled in Lake Orion Schools. Contrary to your public health recommendations, our school district administration has announced that masks will be optional in our school buildings this fall, and it will eliminate the daily use of the Clear to Go app. I am pleading with you to impose a mask mandate for K-12 public schools in Michigan, at least until our children under 12 years of age have had a reasonable opportunity to get fully vaccinated.
This is the situation on the ground here. Our superintendent and school administration have said that masks will be optional, and their use is a parent choice. They are presenting this as though it allows those of us who feels masks are essential can choose to protect our own children by simply having them wear masks. We know this is not the case, particularly when their unmasked classmates are more likely to come from homes where parents, older siblings and other family members and close contacts are unvaccinated and are not taking any sort of reasonable steps to make sure they and their children remain healthy.
The district is offering a virtual program, which they claim will follow the same curriculum as in-person instruction. We were given one additional opportunity during the first week of August in which to enroll our children in this program. Given the choice between that, and sending our unvaccinated children into crowded buildings with essentially no covid mitigation measures in place, we reluctantly chose the virtual program. We were told we will have to commit to remain in that program for the entire academic year, even though our children desperately want to return to in-person instruction, and can likely safely do so this fall or early winter after they’re able to be vaccinated.
Two days ago, we received an email from the district saying that our son, who is entering fourth grade, will be in a combined third and fourth grade virtual class with 22 students. Last year our son’s virtual teacher for third grade expressed concern that our son might be getting bored with some of the material, which she felt was not advanced enough for him. Now, after having already spent a year and a half in a less academically rigorous virtual learning environment, our very intelligent nine year is looking at spending a good part of his fourth grade year covering material that he already learned last year, and which was already too basic for him at that time. Not exactly the same curriculum and academic quality our administration has promised. In the meantime, my husband and I will be spending another year trying to supervise our children, manage their schedules, answer their questions, assist with their technology issues and feed them lunch each day while simultaneously trying to work from home. (And, by the way, we feel blessed and fortunate to have that choice, which many working parents, particularly single parents, do not even have).
I have written to our superintendent and school board regarding these issues. I spoke at the last school board meeting, and intend to do so again at the next meeting this coming Wednesday. Our superintendent is generally polite and responsive, but totally unhelpful and unwilling to change his policy.
Twice now, the district has announced a policy that violates existing state or federal regulations. In June, we enrolled our children in a school-sponsored summer camp program. They announced that they would not require masks, in violation of the MDHHS mask order that remained in effect at that time. When my husband and I contacted the district to ask about this, we were repeatedly told that we were wrong (which MDHHS and MIOSHA both confirmed we WERE NOT), and during one notable conversation about it an assistant superintendent for the district hung up the phone on us.
More recently, the district announced that it would not require masks on school buses this coming year. It was only after parents raised a hue and cry about the fact that this violates current federal regulations that the district reversed course. I can only assume that, prior to that, the district has been violating this regulation on buses throughout the operation of its summer school program.
Out of the 7 school board members I’ve contacted, I have heard back from two. One told me that public opinion is not on my side. A claim which I find both dubious and irrelevant. The other has told me that it is not the board’s role to vote on or overrule the operational decisions of the administration. And, according to “studies”, boards that publicly oppose their administrations’ policies and are seen to be in conflict with their superintendents have worse academic outcomes for students. This after watching multiple school boards in our county VOTE on this issue just within the past week or two. (In at least one reported case, in spite of ACTUAL NAZIS who attended their meeting to oppose their decision! A sure sign that you’re doing the right thing, if ever there was one).
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 ensure that our children can attend public schools without, according to MDHHS, possibly as much as a NINETY PERCENT CHANCE of contracting the Covid-19 virus THIS FALL, then please let me know who I should contact. Lately I seem to be wasting a lot of my time, and other people’s time, writing and talking to leaders who can’t help me or my family. Please let me know which leaders can help so I can address my concerns to them.
Thank you for your time, and your service.
Very Truly Yours,