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Parent groups petition for statewide school mask mandate

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A statewide coalition of parent groups has launched a petition drive aimed at Governor Gretchen Whitmer, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

The Michigan Parents Alliance for Safe Schools (MiPass) wants the state to issue a statewide school mask mandate. They say the current patchwork, county-by-county and district-by-district approach leaves too many students and staff vulnerable to getting COVID-19 in schools.

Rosemary Olivero, a pediatric infectious diseases physician and parent in West Michigan, said she was initially skeptical that simple mitigation measures like masking really prevent COVID from spreading. She’s since changed her mind.

“I put my biases aside, and have analyzed the studies that have come out in large numbers, supporting the simple fact that with these preventative strategies, COVID-19 outbreaks are prevented and schools remain safely open,” Olivero said.

MiPass parents also bemoaned the threats and intimidation directed at local county health officials and school district leaders who have implemented mask mandates.

Mary Hall Rayford is a school board member in Eastpointe. She said the situation has become impossible in many places.

“Some school boards won’t even take a vote because they’re afraid of the threat of violence,” Rayford said. “School board members are resigning because of intimidation and harassment.”

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has encouraged local school mask mandates. But so far, the state has declined to issue one.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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