Local private school leaves mask decision up to parents

Coronavirus

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — As some kids head back to school in person in a few weeks, public schools are following the state’s road map, but what about private schools?

News 8 found at least one private school that says masks will be optional. But are private schools exempt from the mask mandate?

Catholic schools in West Michigan are following state requirements, taking all actions in the plan, including the mask requirement. At least one local private Christian school believes it can leave the decision up to parents.  

A letter sent to parents from Deb Blanker, superintendent of Tri-Unity Christian in Wyoming, says masks are optional.

“As of today, we feel the use of facial coverings is a family decision …. If you choose to send your student to school in a face mask, I assure you they will feel the full support of our staff for taking this position.”

The statement was released despite local health departments, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the president urging people to wear masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.  

The superintendent declined an interview with News 8, but the letter goes on to say, “… there are a growing number of Christian schools who believe the executive orders issued do not apply to private, non-public institutions.”

The superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Grand Rapids, David Faber, disagrees.

“We are not exempted. We are legally bound to all of  those requirements,” Faber said.

The governor’s office told News 8 the same, saying that non-public schools are held to identical “health and safety requirements as their public-school counterparts.”

Michigan’s return-to-school road map states, “Facial coverings must be worn by preK-12 students, staff, and bus drivers during school transportation.”

The road map makes an exemption for anyone with a medical condition or disability.

At this time, News 8 is unaware of any legal action taken against the state or school on this issue.


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