Grand Ledge school officials continue to face criticism over masks

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Adriana Cortese

Grand Ledge school officials continue to receive criticism about their response to the COVID-19 pandemic — including district rules requiring masks be worn inside all school buildings.

But district spokesperson John Ellsworth said criticism at school board meetings has quieted.

“There has been fewer public comment, but of course we have a diverse community filled with involved, concerned parents,” Ellsworth said.

The Barry-Eaton District Health Department on Sept. 30 rescinded its order requiring face masks in schools within Barry and Eaton counties. Officials cited concerns over language in legislation approving the state budget.

But the Grand Ledge school board approved its own making rules in August that remain in effect.

As of Nov. 19, the district has had 283 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 among students, teachers, staff members and other associated with the district, according to the district’s website. The district has about 4,900 students, and Ellsworth said he believes without masks there would be more cases.

Parent Lara Hubbard, who opposes a mask mandate, said her daughter is on the autism spectrum and has been unable to thrive academically due to frequent quarantines, false positives and what she see as a lack of guidance from faculty. 

“My daughter needs consistency and it’s been such a struggle for her to receive the resources she needs, “ Hubbard said. “They just send her home and hand us a couple worksheets and then we find out days later that it was all a false alarm.”

Hubbard said that the reason the meetings have died down is because some parents are tired of the fight and simply pulled their children from the district. 

“I mean it’s just ridiculous that my children have to wear a mask at their desks, but the football games, people are piled on top of one another and somehow that’s OK?” she said.

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