Whitmer defends local school boards and health officials | News, Sports, Jobs
LINCOLN – Earlier this year, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gave local health and schools officials the responsibility of issuing mask warrants and setting COVID-19 policy, as previously done in Lansing.
Mask warrants in some northeast Michigan school districts have sparked backlash against school board members, with some parents going so far as to threaten to remove their children from school if they are forced to wear a mask .
Whitmer, who was visiting the clinic at Alcona Health Center in Lincoln on Wednesday, approached the issue with strong words.
“It is unequivocally unacceptable for anyone to threaten members of our school board, an educator, a public health officer or a clerk,” Whitmer said. “We have seen this increase and it is unacceptable and neither of us should have to put up with it and neither of us should allow it without paying for it.”
Parents who are concerned about the requirement of masks for children say it affects them socially and makes it difficult for them to breathe.
The Center of Disease Control says the masks are safe and reduce the transmission of COVID-19.
Mask demonstrations in Michigan schools have been implemented on the recommendation of local health officials or the health departments themselves issuing the orders.
When asked if Lansing could step in and issue orders to calm local schools and health officials, Whitmer was elusive.
She said more was known about the virus, how the masks helped limit its spread and that a vaccine was available. Because there are other ways to fight the virus, shifting power to local health departments was the best direction to take, she said.
“At first we didn’t know masks were a tool we could use to keep ourselves safe and we definitely didn’t have a vaccine,” she said. “Now we have these tools that we didn’t have, that’s why we pushed decisions to the local level because that’s ultimately where policies are going to be developed and applied. This is why it is important to empower and respect our school boards and county health officials.
Whitmer said she knew people were suffering from COVID-related fatigue and admitted she had it too. Still, she said, continuing to wear masks and get vaccinated is the shortest way to limit her impact on society.
“All of us are tired of dealing with COVID-19. So am I, ”Whitmer said. “But it’s not gone. We’re going to have to learn to live with COVID-19 and the best way to do that and keep our kids in school and re-engage our economy is to put on makeup and get vaccinated. “
Whitmer toured the clinic and met with administrators, before posing for a few photos and heading to his next stop in northern Michigan.