Schools continue COVID protocols following court decision.

October 5, 2020

Students at Hart’s Spitler Elementary School line up for lunch — while social distancing.

Schools continue COVID protocols following court decision.

Michigan’s Supreme Court ruled 4-3 Friday, Oct. 2, that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lacks the authority to extend or declare states of emergency related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following Friday’s ruling, local school districts are proceeding with caution.

Hart, Shelby and Hesperia school districts will continue to follow procedures that have been in place since the beginning of the school year. These include requiring all staff and other adults in the buildings to wear facial coverings at all times; requiring students in grades six through 12 to wear masks at all times; and requiring students in grades kindergarten through five to wear masks when in common areas.

However, the districts are not enforcing an executive order that was set to take effect Monday, Oct. 5, requiring K-5 students wear masks in their classrooms.

“Hart Public Schools will continue to follow its previous Road Map to Return Plan, by following the mask mandates with the exception of kindergarten through fifth grade,” states a post on Hart Public Schools Facebook page. “We hope to get more legal clarification this week and further announcements will follow.”

“We are doing the same thing that we have done for the first five weeks of the school year, which is we are following our Return to Learn Plan, which is what we have been advised to do,” said Shelby Public Schools Superintendent Tim Reeves in a voicemail message. “We are following through with our Return to Learn plan and will not do anything different than we’ve done for the first five weeks.”

“It is unclear at this point what this ruling means for our school district, as there are different interpretations regarding whether this ruling is immediate or takes place after 21 days,” states Hesperia Community Schools Superintendent Vaughn White in a post on the district’s Facebook page. “What we do know is that the order to create our preparedness plan this summer was approved by our Governor and Legislature. It was created by our district road map committee, approved by the board, and submitted to the state. I am confident we are on solid ground with this plan as we move forward so we will continue to wear masks in grades 6-12.

“What is unclear is last week’s executive order regarding the requirement to wear masks in kindergarten through fifth grade that was scheduled to go into effect (Oct. 5),” White states. “Since we would have not been to the point of mandating masks K-5 via community spread concerns from the health department, we will pause on the K-5 masking requirement until we get further guidance in the days ahead.

Spitler Elementary School students eat lunch in their classroom.

“Pentwater had required masks for K-12 prior to this executive order,” said Pentwater Public Schools Superintendent Scott Karaptian. “So right from the start of the school year, we were requiring masks. We will continue to require masks. That’s what we’ve been doing all year long, and there will be no change.”

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order late Monday, Oct. 5, implementing some of the same COVID-19 guidelines that were mandated by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive orders.

Calls to Walkerville Public Schools were not immediately returned.

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This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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