‘They should have decided before school’ community split after Stockbridge schools enforce mandate

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STOCKBRIDGE, Mich. (WLNS) — Just more than a week into the new school year, more and more districts are turning to mask mandates. And they continue to divide communities.

Tonight, another district is changing course on its face covering policy. Stockbridge opened the year with no mask guidelines, but after COVID-19 cases popped up at each of its schools, the school board reversed course and enforced a mask mandate.

There are just more than 1200 in Stockbridge schools, and with more than 100 of them- or nearly 10 percent- either currently in quarantine or having been quarantined last week, the numbers have forced the districts hand.

“The quarantining adds up overtime,” said Stockbridge superintendent Brian Friddle. “That’s the big motivation for making the change at this point in time. Student safety is our priority, educating them is our mission, but we have to figure out how to do that in the safest way possible.”

Masks are required in Stockbridge schools beginning Thursday, a policy that affects everyone when in school facilities, regardless of vaccination status.

Nancy Wisman is a mentor for the Stockbridge Affiliate of Michigan Virtual — an online high school alternative, and this is just what she wants.

“I would just like to protect all the children. Period. In any way we can,” Wisman said.

Last year, her program had a record 25 students numbers are currently half of that this year, but Wisman thinks this announcement will change that.

“I anticipate that our enrollment will definitely increase in the next week or so.”

Some students, like senior Paige Rice, say they just want consistency.

“I just want things to go back to normal, I wish they had made this decision before the school year”, Rice said

6 news didn’t catch up with any parents against the decision on camera, but one community Facebook group had hundreds of comments. Many against the mask mandate including one parent who says she now intends to home school her children.

Friddle knew the decision would be met with push back .. But repeated that safety is priority.

“We do recognize we have two differing views in the community and a large portion of our community would prefer not to have masks,” Friddle said. “But because of how many concerns we have with Covid right now, it’s a good strategy to use.”

Friddle says the mask mandate will be re-assessed sometime down the line if and when both community and statewide numbers go back down.

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