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Parents hold anti-mask mandate protest before Grand Ledge School Board meeting

Anti-mask mandate protest
Peyton Davis is holding a sign at the anti-mask mandate protest
Posted at 8:50 AM, Aug 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-24 08:50:03-04

GRAND LEDGE, Mich. — About 40 people showed up for an anti-mask mandate protest Monday outside the Grand Ledge Public Schools administration building.

Jeny Davis is a parent and was upset at the board's decision two weeks ago to requires masks.

Jeny Davis and her daughter Peyton Davis.
Jeny Davis and her daughter Peyton Davis.

“They’re our children and it should be our decision. If other parents want to mask their kids, that’s okay," Davis said. "We’re not against that. We’re just saying for our children we don’t believe that it’s the best thing for them emotionally or mentally or physically.”

Protest outside Grand Ledge Public Schools administration  building
Protest outside Grand Ledge Public Schools administration building

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommends all schools require universal masking for students, staff and visitors regardless of vaccination status or levels of community transmission.

Director of communications for Grand Ledge Public Schools John Ellsworth said the quarantine rules from the Barry Eaton District Health Department suggest they can minimize interruptions and minimize quarantines if they have a universal masking policy.

Grand Ledge Public Schools
Grand Ledge Public Schools

“So, we can maximize the in-person learning, more likely to get our five days of full days of school instruction," Ellsworth said. "We can provide a consistent quality instructional program with fewer interruptions, and that’s why we’re doing this mask policy.

After the protest, people filed into the school board meeting. At the start of the meeting board member Ben Cwayna made a motion to change the agenda to consider rescinding the mask mandate, but there was no support from other board members.

Grand Ledge School board meeting
Grand Ledge School Board meeting

Most of those who spoke during public comment expressed concerns about the mask mandate and about the district's equity, diversity and inclusion plans, while a few spoke in favor of those topics.

Later in the meeting, in a 6 to 1 vote, the board approved the creation of a director of equity, diversity, inclusion, and support services for students position, which board President Sara Clark Pierson said has a broader focus than just racial issues.

Monday night's school board meeting
Monday night's school board meeting

“It’s far more inclusive. It’s low-income kids. It’s our kids with disabilities. It's just a broader array," Pierson said. "Especially given that they’re coming into a year after being away for a year, more remote learning, we think we have to have more focus on it.”

The next step is for the administration to develop the job description and advertise the job.

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