Grand Ledge Public Schools, Hayes Middle School, COVID-19, mask mandate

Passions run high over COVID and schools, but debate remains civil

Across the country, school board meetings have erupted as parents and sometimes students have clashed about COVID vaccinations and masking. Some meetings have turned raucous and personal. School leaders have resigned or been removed. In and around Ingham County, people report that while interest and passions have run high, the climate had been civil. East Lansing Public Schools

Shelley Davis Boyd, president of MacDonald Middle School’s parent council

Boyd said the parents’ council has a very close relationship with the school district’s administration and superintendent. 

“We’re constantly kept in the loop on what’s going on … the reaction has been very positive,” Boyd said.

Mason High School yearbook staff adapts to COVID challenges

The Mason High School yearbook staff, and yearbook staffs across the country, have had to adapt to a new way of creating a book of memories amid being in a pandemic. With many school events and clubs being cancelled, it has been a challenge to chronicle this remote school year. Mason High School yearbook staff attends class over Zoom. Eric Haynie is the yearbook teacher at Mason High School. As a teacher, he has had to help his students find creative ways to create the yearbook.

Building Twentyone logo

Building Twentyone hosts Comedy for a Cause fundraiser

Building Twentyone in Mason hosted “Comedy for a Cause” on March 4. This was a fundraising event for the teen center to support its programs and help with the costs to run the organization. 

The event had a DJ, food, and the main attraction, comedian Joey I.L.O. The fundraiser was in-person, but people could also attend virtually. “You had so many different types of people in the room from different walks of life … to me, that’s what was so beautiful about the comedy that it was so organic and just all came together and there were so many people from different walks and to see them all laughing together, man, it was beautiful,” said I.L.O.

The fundraiser was bigger than what Building Twentyone Director Benjamin Schartow was expecting. There ended up being around 120 people in-person, and at least 30 people virtually. The event raised more than $17,000, according to the Building Twentyone website.

Mason students, teacher compare on in-person, online instruction

With the return to some in-person instruction, some Mason High School students cho0se to continue learning from home. “I just think it really depends on the person. Some people are doing better online,” Mason senior Lauren Pekrul said. “That’s why I stayed online, because I thought I was more productive. And then I think a lot of people needed to be in person to really get a good education.

Ice cream service area at The Daily Scoop

Mason restaurants adapt to increased capacity allowances

After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order earlier this month allowing restaurants to operate at up to 50% capacity, Mason restaurants have been trying to make back what they’ve lost due to the pandemic. 

Griffin WilesThe Daily Scoop in Mason was hit hard in the 2020 ice cream season and is trying to make up for lost sales. Rob Hearit, owner of Darb’s Tavern and Eatery, said his restaurant opened at 50% capacity as soon as the governor allowed it. “That was pretty much the driving force,” Hearit said. “We were just gonna do whatever the guidelines were. … We followed all the safety protocols, so we felt good about it.”

Due to another order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, businesses are required to enforce mask wearing. 

Hearit said 95% of customers wear their masks, and those who refuse are not allowed in.

Equity Taskforce requests diversity reform from Mason school district

Image courtesy of Rhiannon Klein. The Equity Taskforce of Mason sent a letter to the Board of Education requesting diversity and inclusion improvements in the school curriculum. 

Rhiannon Klein and Katelyne Thomas, founders of the Equity Taskforce, appeared before the district’s Diversity Committee March 10. The taskforce was founded in February after Thomas, a fifth grade teacher, attempted to bring Black Lives Matter into her classroom curriculum for Black History Month. 

According to Klein, a superior told Thomas that Black Lives Matter falls under the “controversial issue” category of Board Policy 2240, which states controversial issues may not be taught in classrooms. 

After being taken to a reprimand meeting, Thomas resigned. She and Klein wrote the letter, which now has more than 70 signers, to the board. 

Klein said the letter has six main requests 

First, the letter asks to eliminate Board Policy 2240. 

Klein said the policy is applied “subjectively and loosely,” and the group is concerned that teachers have been unfairly reprimanded for violating the policy. During public comment, community member Anne Rauscher said she is “troubled” by the policy. 

“I would like to see a district where students have the opportunity to respectfully discuss current events,” Rauscher said.

City seal

Mason DDA gift cards makes a return

They’re back. The Mason Downtown District Authority is bringing back DDA gift cards to spend at downtown businesses. Monday, the DDA announced the gift cards are coming back for purchase. The DDA office is issuing only 1,000 gift cards to the public to help small businesses within the area. Sales started March 19  and will go until they are sold out.

Mason High School football field with snow on the ground

Mason parents share gratitude, grievances with school district’s handling of COVID-19

Mason parents have a range of reactions to the district’s handling of learning through the coronavirus pandemic.

One mom said, “As long as the school district is continuing to explore options to meet the needs of all the learners, whether that’s different timing or different days of the week, I think we’re not stagnant,” Schafer said. “They’re continually trying to reach solutions.”