After students have been back in school for only a few weeks, the school boards for Saginaw Township Community Schools and Swan Valley School District have implemented a mask mandate for all students and staff.
"Last night at our school board meeting we opted to vote to have all of our schools, students and staff, wear masks,” said Marianne Bird, the Treasurer of Saginaw Township Community Schools Board of Education.
A decision, with a track record of controversy.
Saginaw Township Schools requiring masks are joining districts like Midland, Mount pleasant and now the nearby Swan Valley District.
“The Swan Valley School Board has issued this mandate due to the fact nearly 200 students and staff have already been impacted by COVID-19 this school year,” a letter to Swan Valley parents said.
Both mandates allow masks to be removed while eating or drinking. In Saginaw Township, students who present a medical reason in writing from a doctor and vaccinated teachers who are working with children that are hard of hearing or with developmental conditions.
"We have to do something. And it's unfortunate that something wasn't done earlier by our officials,” Bird said.
The board voted six to one on the decision. Bird was one of the six to vote yes, frustrated that a decision of this magnitude falls to the school board.
"There has been no decisions made at the local health department level, at the state level, or at the national level, or with the cd to make a mandate for masks,” Bird said.
She said districts are bearing the brunt and the backlash of a decision that should be made at a higher level.
"Don't just pass that long to a local school district, where people are going to get letters and things and there may be protests,” Bird said.
She acknowledges, though, angry parents may be the price to pay for keeping students and staff safe.
"Yes, people have the right to protest, but I think in the end I think we've made the right decision. I would hope that they would see that what we're doing has good intentions,” Bird said.
The Swan Valley mandate goes into Wednesday, Sept. 15 and the mandate for Saginaw Township begins Monday, Sept. 20.