Williamston parents voiced opposition to mask mandate

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Parents, teachers and those in the community spoke about the COVID-19 mask mandate for schools in the district and how it is affecting their young children’s mental health and development.  

Conflict arose at the Ingham County Commissioner Meeting on Feb. 22, 2022  at Ingham County Courthouse in Mason, Michigan.

During the section of the meeting designated for public comment, minutes were filled with different members of the community. Some were frustrated and angry while others were mainly concerned. 

Parents are concerned about the status of how their children’s mental health is affected by wearing masks to school. Some community members said it was setting back their cognitive development because of their young age, as well as giving them a negative perspective during class. 

Parents claimed other school districts have lifted the mask mandate in public schools. Bethany Walter, a parent with children in Williamston Public Schools, said, “How many times do the experts need to be wrong before we say enough is enough,” she continued, “help empower us to make smarter choices for our kids.” 

Other parents were concerned about their children being pulled out of school due to close contact. Melissa Harrington, parent in Williamston, said, “My middle son was contract traced four times in the month of January, and he never had covid.” 

Her main concerns revolved around the issue that her son was missing education while never being sick, which she said would impact his growth and development. 

Along with parents, members within the community also attended the meeting to voice their concerns. Julie Conley, a member of the Board of Education in Williamston Public Schools, said she felt certain students were being targeted for being unvaccinated due to the heightened enforcement of wearing masks. 

The CDC guidelines state if you are two years or older and unvaccinated, wear a mask indoors in public. The guidelines also state to wear a mask if you are fully vaccinated and in an area of high transmission or big crowds.

If Ingham County were to follow the CDC guidelines, the use of masks for students would remain implemented. As different states create their own guidelines regarding masks, parents in the Ingham County area are anxious to bring normalcy to their young children.

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