CHARLOTTE, Mich. — Parents and students protested outside Charlotte Middle School and Charlotte High School this morning against the mask mandate issued by the Barry-Eaton District Health Department.
Jonathan Novetske has a child in the Charlotte Public Schools and, when he heard about the mandate, he was shocked.
“Baffled that they would do something that just doesn’t make sense,” he said.
“I was just really sad because it has been so nice this year to have a choice on what we do with our children," said parent Anna Loveless. "I think that’s really important as parents to have that right. We are in charge of our children and it just makes me sad that these kids are going to be wearing masks for seven hours a day.”
Loveless said she tried to get a religious exemption for her child but it was denied.
Community health promotions specialist with the Barry-Eaton District Health Department Sarah Surna said last year from Aug. 30 to Sept.12 there were seven COVID-19 cases in Eaton County schools. This year from Aug. 29 to Sept. 11 there were 93 cases, which was a big factor for the mandate.
“We have consulted many, many studies in our decision to issue this public health order. And the scientific consensus is yes, masks work," Surna said. "And it is unfortunate that many of the studies that have been conducted with rigorous scientific requirements are being ignored."
Eight grader Coral Loveless said she doesn’t want to wear a mask.
“I feel like I’m touching my face more especially with a mask and so it’s not really preventing me from spreading my germs and also I just can't breathe through it,” Loveless said.
If students aren’t wearing a mask, the school will offer them one and, if a student doesn’t have a mask and won’t wear one, then they can’t go into the classrooms, Superintendent Mandy Stewart said.
“I’m an educator not a health department official. I just know that the health department when they issue a mandate it’s in the best interest of people’s health," Stewart said. "And that’s their expertise. We are told to comply with that mandate and we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re doing legally the right thing for our district. Again it’s all about having safe live instruction."
The mask order will remain in effect until further notice. Surna said the decision to end the mandate will be based on science.
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