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Kalamazoo County commissioners will vote on asking health department to rescind K–6 mask mandate

Mask Mandate in Schools
Posted at 5:21 PM, Sep 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-22 17:41:02-04

KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. — The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners is considering a resolution that would ask the health department to rescind its mask mandate for students in kindergarten through sixth grade.

The resolution was initially proposed by residents.

In two weeks, the Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners will vote on it, and contrary to what some may think, not everyone pushing for a formal vote is against the mandate.

"This is an issue that is very divisive, and on both sides, people are really emotional about it," said Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners Chair Tracy Hall.

The mandate was put in place back in August.

READ MORE: Allegan, Kalamazoo counties requiring masks indoors for students in grades K–6

"I’m absolutely against it. It should be up to the individual school districts and beyond that, the individual parents to decide if they want to have their kids masked or not. To me, that is a fundamental freedom," said Kalamazoo County Commissioner John Gisler.

"We're talking about the health and welfare of kids, and people have different values and beliefs. I support the science behind this. I support our health officer," said Hall.

Both Gisler, who is against the mandate, and Hall, who is for it, pushed for a formal vote.

"There’s a lot of frustration; people don't feel heard, which is another reason why I thought it was important to move that resolution forward for a vote so we can have further discussions on that," said Hall.

Hall said she's heard from many passionate people during public comment with the majority speaking against the mandate, but she doesn't believe those strong views represent the people in her district.

"There's a silent majority who are slowly starting, I believe, slowly starting to speak up. We’ve received a half a dozen emails today supporting the mask mandate," said Hall.

RELATED: Parents push for mask mandate inside Michigan schools

In Gisler's district, he sees the opposite.

"I had received 168 emails, phone calls, whatever, and 164 of them wanted to see the mandate gone, so that's not exactly six a one and a half dozen the other, at least not in South County. That was pretty lopsided," said Gisler.

The Kalamazoo County Board of Commissioners also voted in Tuesday's meeting to show their support for Kalamazoo County Health Officer Jim Rutherford. That passed 6–5 showing support.

FOX 17 reached out to the Kalamazoo County Health and Community Services Department multiple times on Wednesday, but they could not make anyone available to speak on the mask mandate.

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