Parental coalition on right track in COVID-19 move

Author Angela Parkhurst wrote, “At the end of the day, I fight for those who cannot fight for themselves.” A coalition of parent groups in Michigan is doing just that.

On Wednesday, The Assocated Press reported that this coalition is urging Michigan’s health department to require indoor masking at all schools to curb the coronavirus and vowed to combat politicians who oppose such mandates.

The Michigan Parents Alliance for Safe Schools includes pro-mask groups from a dozen counties — seven with school mask mandates and five without.

“Right now you’ve got about 60% of Michigan’s kids covered. What about the other 40%? We’re going to keep fighting for them,” said Emily Mellits, a parent of two school-age kids in Macomb County. It is Michigan’s third-most populated county and — unlike most large counties and many small ones — does not require face coverings, leaving it to schools to decide.

The coalition, which launched a petition seeking a statewide mandate from state health director Elizabeth Hertel, acted a day after a Republican-controlled Senate committee approved bills that would prevent state and local health officials from mandating masks to attend school. Some GOP legislators have threatened funding repercussions for county health departments that issue mask orders.

Mellits said school board members are not public health experts and “it shouldn’t fall on them.” Some, she said, do not trust guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which both recommend universal masking in schools as cases have increased.

Dr. Rosemary Olivero, a pediatric infectious disease specialist in west Michigan who has three children in school, said masking in indoor settings where COVID-19 transmission is high or substantial “is simply not negotiable. The lack of a universal mask mandate in the state of Michigan has not only left our children vulnerable to COVID-19 but also our unvaccinated and fragile community members. This will undoubtedly set us back in our ability to control the pandemic and safely live with this virus.”

We have stated this a number of times before — this virus is not, and never will be, a political issue — it is a public health issue. There have already been a number of cases reported within some of our public schools locally, and we fear that with a great deal of these students being too young to be vaccinated, this is only the beginning. The single best option for these students is to wear a mask in school until the vaccine is available to them — anything short of that defies logic. Wishful thinking is not going to keep these kids safe — only following and abiding by the science will.

We agree with this motion by the Michigan Parents Alliance for Safe Schools. They are fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves, and that is much more admirable than doing nothing and hoping for the best.


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