Students will return to their classrooms in Grand Lansing this fall, but some will need to continue to wear their masks.
On July 9, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines for schools, recommending that they require all students over 2 years of age who have not been vaccinated against COVID-19 wear masks at school to prevent the spread of disease. Mid-Michigan school districts continue to review the new guidelines. Some plan to follow the guidelines, some will make masks optional, and others have yet to finalize the policies.
Charlotte Public Schools, Grand Ledge Public Schools, Mason Public Schools and Eaton Rapids Public Schools are among the districts that will not make masks mandatory for students and staff.
Mask requirements will be in place for at least the youngest elementary students in the Lansing School District. Children under 12 cannot currently receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Certainly, at this time, masks will be required for young children who cannot be vaccinated,” said Robert Kolt, spokesperson for the Lansing school district. “We are working on a comprehensive, detailed and robust response plan for all other students. “
The American Academy of Pediatrics has gone beyond CDC guidelines and recommends that all staff and students over the age of 2 wear masks in school, regardless of their immunization status.
School mask warrants have already sparked opposition in Michigan, and a lawsuit could potentially affect schools’ ability to enforce mask requirements.
Resurrection School – a Catholic elementary school near downtown Lansing – filed a lawsuit in October arguing that warrants requiring students to wear masks in classrooms require the school and families to “either violate their sincere religious beliefs, or face criminal prosecution ”.
Arguments in the case were heard Wednesday before the 6th United States Court of Appeals.
“In accordance with the teachings of the Catholic faith, the Resurrection school believes that every human being has dignity and is made in the image and likeness of God,” according to the complaint. “Unfortunately, a mask protects our humanity. And because God created us in his image, we hide this image.
In a July 13 communication to families, Charlotte Public Schools Superintendent Mandy Stewart said there would be no mask requirements because the local “contagion risk level” is low.
Like most schools, the lack of a mask warrant in Charlotte public schools could change.
“It’s important to note that if we see an increase in community transmission or there is an epidemic, we may need to revisit the mask requirement,” Stewart wrote. “For example, if there is an epidemic in a school or if the local data becomes high, we will examine the possibility of temporarily requiring masks, as an alternative to closing the building or switching to virtual programming.”
Officials from several school districts in the Lansing area could not be contacted to confirm whether mask requirements will be implemented. Some school districts have yet to make a decision. Waverly Community Schools and DeWitt Public Schools both plan to announce a decision in early August.
St. Johns Public Schools Superintendent Mark Palmer expects his school board to also approve the plans in August, but the district has yet to make any commitments as to what the school will look like in terms. masks this fall. As of June 22, the school district has been running academic and athletic summer programs without any COVID-19 protocols, he said.
“I am optimistic that school will be normal when we start at the end of August,” Palmer said in an email. “However, if there’s anything I’ve learned over the past year, it’s that the requirements for what we need to do can change instantly.”