LANSING, Mich. — The Lansing School board voted unanimously Thursday night to establish its own mask mandate that will be in effect until the end of the school year.
Prior to Thursday, Lansing School District was under the Ingham County Health Department mandate.
This decision comes on week after the Ingham County Health Department announced its mandate requiring students and teachers to wear masks in Ingham County schools will end Feb. 19.
Dr. Farhan Bhatti, a physician at Sparrow Hospital and a Lansing School Board member, said with hospital occupancy currently at 90%, mandates are necessary.
“If we were a school district in a part of the state where hospital occupancy were much lower, like 20 or 30 percent, it might make sense to remove a mask mandate," Bhatti said. "But unfortunately in this part of the state, hospital bed occupancy is still really high. So we can’t yet let our guard down.”
Lansing School Board President Gabrielle Lawrence said she is "thrilled" at the board's decision, and said she believes this will offer additional protection to Lansing families with children who are not yet eligible for the vaccine.
“We clearly have had a lot of success mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in our buildings since we've had a mask mandate," Lawrence said. "We've always followed the science. We've always followed the numbers in the school district, and tonight is no different.”
The decision came after a report by Lansing School District's COVID-19 Coordination Team showed that cases in the district were at similar levels compared to 12 months ago.
“The covid coordination team highly recommends continuing with universal masking at the present time," Becky Hoff, COVID-19 Coordination Team member said. "We recommend continuing with the implementation of the mitigation strategies until we can be confident that decreasing them will not endanger our students, staff or families. And we look forward to that day.”
Bhatti said the district will continue to evaluate COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in Mid-Michigan as the school year continues.
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