Libertas school reopens, masks not required

Ottawa County

HUDSONVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — Students at Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville are back in the classroom this week after they were closed for two weeks.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health closed the school after confirmed cases of COVID-19 and for not complying with the state’s mask mandate. 

As students were allowed to return to in person instruction at the K-12 school Monday Nov. 9, a mix of the roughly 270 students wore masks, but many did not. 

The school is not requiring students to wear masks, saying the responsibility falls on their parents, not the state when it comes to making a decision on whether or not to mask up. 

Ottawa County officials don’t agree. According to the Holland Sentinel, Ottawa County Corporate Counsel Doug Van Essen said, “all options are on the table,” including shutting down the school again. 

News 8 spoke with school administrator Bob Davis who said he never understood why the school was forcibly closed

In an newsletter sent out to parents via email, Davis said, “The individual choice for your children to be in masks or not is always at the parent’s discretion/ Having said that, we will remind you that the Ottawa County health department maintains that children K-12 must be in masks while at school unless eating or in chapel,” Davis said in the newsletter. “We will not discipline, monitor, or shame anyone for wearing or not wearing a mask.”

There are more than 100 private and public schools in Ottawa County and Libertas remains the only one not enforcing the mask mandate. 

Davis says he understands the state and the county’s complaints, but maintains the school will fight them. They are in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals right now. They expect an injunction, attorneys say it could happen within the week.

The school says they are not outright ignoring the virus, they are disinfecting classrooms, making hand sanitizer and masks readily available while requiring sick or exposed students and staff to stay home. 

The school is not, however, participating with the county in contact tracing measures even after two students and two staff members tested positive for the virus weeks ago. 

“We cannot in good conscience require you to send your children to school in masks for seven hours a day, just so they can be back to in-person instruction,” Davis said in a newsletter to parents. “The threat is now real but the principle has not changed.”

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