Skubick: Whitmer will not mandate masks in Michigan schools

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Sixth-grader Adriana Campbell, 11, jots down her name as she starts to work on her first assignment during the first day of school on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021 at Freeman Elementary School in Flint, Mich. (Jake May/The Flint Journal via AP)

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) –  Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants school kids and teachers to mask up when they return to the classroom this fall, but given a chance today to say she would mandate such a policy, the governor would not go there.

Earlier this week, the state board of education did not vote on whether school districts should mask up this fall but it did approve a non-binding resolution that says the board will support whatever the schools decide on the mask issue.

Even though the governor is a strong mask advocate and believes that masks are critical to protecting school children, she has only recommended schools to do this. She was asked four times why she’s not ordering it.

“At this point, we’re seeing a lot of districts moving forward and adopting mask policies and that’s the right thing to do,” said Whitmer.

Legislative Republicans strongly oppose any state mandates on masks and the governor explains she and the GOP concluded this decision should be made locally.

“The legislature and I worked on a series of bills that really vest that initial authority in the school boards and we hope they take it seriously,” said Whitmer.

The governor reports her administration is monitoring what schools are doing, and the governor reports her chief medical officer is urging mask usage.

“We’re working very closely and hope that they all watch the science and act with the council of their public health experts and adopt mask policies for students,” Whitmer said.

Then the governor was asked if she discovered schools were not complying would she mandate then.

“I can tell you that we are very focused and encouraging districts to mask up for students who cant get inoculated yet.”

6 News pollster Bernie Porn contends the only way the governor would use the mandate is if public opinion mandates it.

“Only if the situation suggests that that’s necessary, meaning the public opinion says ‘yeah use maybe ought to go back to doing that,'” said Porn.

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