Kalamazoo Co. Commission takes up school mask debate

Kalamazoo County

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — A resolution before the Kalamazoo County Commission would ask the county health department to rescind its mask mandate for certain students.

On Tuesday, county commissioners first convened in a Committee of the Whole Meeting. On the agenda was a resolution against a pandemic-related emergency order issued by the Kalamazoo Health and Community Services Department. The emergency order requires masks for students kindergarten through sixth grade.

The resolution, introduced by District 7 Commissioner Roger Tuinier, claims the order is “unlawful” and respectfully requests the county health department to immediately rescind it.

It also asks the department to “provide full and complete information about… religious… and philosophical exemption from the mask requirement.”

Six commissioners — Chair Tracy Hall, Vice Chair Tamy Rey, Tuinier, Dale Shugars, John Gisler and Jeff Heppler — voted to advance the resolution to another reading.

The resolution will be voted on in two weeks.

During a regular meeting Tuesday evening, a dueling resolution was on the agenda

Resolution 3153 is one in support of County Health Officer Jim Rutherford. It looks to publicly offer thanks and encouragement to Rutherford and pledges continuing support to him and his staff.

“Rutherford and his staff worked really, really hard. He is trying with everything he can, to protect the people for our county. He’s been taking a proactive stance, not waiting for things to get out of hand,” Commissioner Mike Quinn said. “Because he has faced so much abuse, I think it’s time we stand up for our employee and let him know that we got his back.”

Six commissioners voted to carry the resolution forward: Brudar Melgar, Hall, Veronica McKissack, Quinn, Rey and Tuinier.

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