Michigan’s Board of Education approved a resolution that supports allowing local school districts to make “scientifically informed decisions” about whether to mandate COVID-19 masks for all students, teachers and visitors.
Following a tense, daylong meeting, the Democratic-majority board signed off on the resolution in a 5-2 vote Tuesday that members stressed “supports the right of local control to mask and not to mask.”
Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she will not require masks in school, like she did last academic year, instead letting each district, charter academy and private school decide.
The resolution comes after Whitmer’s administration last week endorsed a recommendation from the state health department for universal masking in K-12 school buildings, saying it will help increase the amount of in-person learning.
The measure approved Tuesday by the Board of Education replaced an initial resolution offered by the eight-member board’s two Republican members, Tom McMillin of Oakland Township and Nikki Snyder of Dexter, opposing mandatory masking and medical testing for K-12 students.
Both Snyder and McMillin cast the only two no votes against the revised resolution, The Detroit News reported.
McMillin argued that forcing students to wear masks is a form of child abuse.
“The parents aren’t going to just sit by and let this happen,” he said.
McMillin also noted that unlike most of last school year “there’s a vaccine out there.” The vaccine has not yet been approved for children younger than 12, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended indoor masks for all teachers, staff, students and school visitors amid the surging delta variant of the coronavirus.
Pamela Pugh, D-Saginaw, proposed the revision to the initial resolution. She accused Snyder and McMillin of spreading propaganda and putting “lives in jeopardy.”
“We need to get the facts straight. We need to put accurate information out or shut our mouths. We need to go up against the enemy that is the enemy and that’s COVID,” Pugh said.