Ottawa Co. commission chair 'very disappointed' by 'organized effort to bully and intimidate' mask supporters

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Posted at 12:31 PM, Aug 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-25 12:31:57-04

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich. — Roger Bergman, chair of the Ottawa County Board of Commissioners, says he’s “very disappointed” by the “organized effort to bully and intimidate anyone who dared to speak in favor of a mask mandate in schools.”

Bergman’s comments were part of a statement he released Wednesday, the day after a number of people showed up to a commission meeting to voice their opinions on a mask mandate in schools.

The Ottawa County Health Department issued an order last week requiring masks for pre-K through sixth-grade students.

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That order has been met with both opposition and praise from parents.

“I was impressed with the number of citizens who showed up yesterday to express themselves, but very disappointed by the organized effort to bully and intimidate anyone who dared to speak in favor of a mask mandate in schools,” Bergman’s statement said. “Countywide epidemic orders are extremely rare and typically generate intense controversy, which is why our state legislature has ensured that those decisions are made by the county health officers exclusively. There is no question that the Board of Commissioners cannot make this decision and cannot reverse this decision. Legally, the Board cannot fire the health officer for making this decision nor can it use its power of the purse to bully her into rescinding the decision. There were some legitimate issues that the Board will ask the county’s health officer to address, such as the timing of her decision, the type of masks that will be available to children and how children with legitimate medical reasons can more easily obtain exemptions. I wish to remind everyone that most of the students in the United States will be in school with masks, as they were last year. The temporary area local health orders this year only apply to K-6 and, unlike last year, will not apply outdoors. The Ottawa County Board of Commissioners sincerely hope that the order will expire during the fall semester by its own terms, that we can keep the schools open this year and that we can return to complete normalcy by the spring semester.”