NewsLocal NewsKent


Superintendent says inconsistent mask guidelines causing confusion

Posted at 10:36 PM, May 17, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-17 22:39:06-04

ROCKFORD, Mich. — Just days after announcing fully vaccinated people could be unmasked inside most indoor settings, this weekend, the CDC released new guidance saying face coverings should be worn in schools for the rest of the academic year.

It comes shortly after the CDC announced that vaccinated people could be indoors without a mask, but later added the disclaimer for students.

As a result, school officials have been fielding questions from parents and staff confused over the updated changes.

Superintendent Michael Shibler with Rockford Public Schools says it has been confusing for parents on both sides, who support and do not support students wearing masks in the classroom.

"It’s been confusing staff. It’s been confusing the parents and the community as a whole," Shibler said.

Rockford is still requiring masks but has updated their policies to allow students to take off their face coverings while outside.

With the updated recommendations from the CDC, Rockford continues to await additional guidance from the Kent County Health Department and MDHHS.

Last week, health officials advised the schools to use the 'honor system' for students who are fully vaccinated.

"I want the CDC, and the state health department and Kent county to prioritize their job in public health and not tomorrow come up with new recommendations and/or directives," Shibler said.

Some parents say now is the right time, citing that high risk individuals in the community have now had an opportunity to become vaccinated.

Those in support of taking masks out of the classroom also say that students are very low risk for severe infection or hospitalization.

"It seems like it's not really protecting who they want to protect anymore because the vaccine is available for those teachers and those staff members," said Marcie Shoham, who has four children within the Forest Hills Public Schools system.

Other school districts have also remained largely unchanged in their mask mandate.

Grand Rapids Public Schools this afternoon also announced that they are awaiting additional guidance and direction from the health department.

However, the district added that masks will still be required indoors until the end of the academic year.

It is yet to be determined if masks will be required during summer school or summer after-school programs.

Masks will also no longer be required for students and staff outdoors including during sports.