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DeWitt residents express disagreement with school district's mask policy despite rising COVID cases

DeWitt Board of Education meeting Nov. 8
Posted at 11:46 AM, Nov 10, 2021

A DeWitt father and attorney sued DeWitt Public Schools last month over its mask policy. On Monday night, the school board took up the issue.

Roughly 40 DeWitt residents showed up at Monday night's school board meeting to express their opinions about the district's mask policy. Most of those who spoke disagreed with it.

That's despite the fact that the number of new COVID cases has been increasing since mid-summer and the Mid-Michigan District Health Department puts Clinton County's COVID risk level as high.

Fifteen minutes after the meeting started, the board went into closed session to converse with the district's lawyer. Everyone in attendance had to move outside the boardroom and stay there for about an hour before being invited back in. Some were angry about it, including resident Makayla Smith.

"This evening when you had the closed-door session, it was disrespectful to keep the public waiting as long as you did, because in the past when this board has had closed sessions, you've been very courteous to the public, which you should answer to, and have held those closed-door sessions at the end of the agenda," Smith said to the board.

Once invited back in, 18 residents voiced their opinions to the board.

"Masks are harming our children and vaccines are destroying lives," resident Jeff Simpson said.

DeWitt mother Angela Schutte told the board she is disgusted with the mask policy.

"In the 23 years that I've been here in this town, 12 years as a bartender 16 years as a postal carrier," Schutte said, "I know a lot about everybody around here, around this town, and I've never been — and I know dirty secrets — I've never been so disgusted as I am now with the way that things are going in DeWitt schools."

Deirdre Thompson compared the mandate to slavery.

"Did you know that during slavery, slaves were forced to wear masks as to symbolically mark them as not having a voice?" Thompson said to the board.

A majority of those in attendance did not agree with the district's mask mandate. Though, one parent did.

"I just wanted to say that I'm in favor of what is happening here at DeWitt right now. It's been working out just fine," father Jordan Burnie said. "There's a large majority of parents who feel the same way, they just choose not to come to these meetings. They don't want to subject themselves to this type of circus. It's utterly ridiculous."

DeWitt Board of Education President Craig Kahler said the board voted on a "new mask policy with a modification to state the board could essentially reverse or cancel a mask mandate with a vote."

Kahler said the policy will be on the agenda for the next board meeting for a second reading and could be adopted December.

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5:49 PM, Jun 03, 2022

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