Federal appeals court to hear arguments over Michigan mask mandate

Resurrection Catholic School claims mask mandate was unconstitutional
Can the state force students to mask up?
Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 4:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A federal appeals court will hear arguments about Michigan’s previous mask mandates in schools Wednesday.

Update: Federal judge sides with Michigan in catholic school’s mask mandate challenge

Resurrection Catholic School in Lansing filed the lawsuit, claiming the state’s mask mandate was unconstitutional.

The school claims the mandate from October requiring all students to wear a mask went against its teachings.

Now it wants the court to make sure the state can’t bring it back.

“We didn’t, over the past year, have any cases of in school transmission,” said Rev. Steve Mattson, Church of the Resurrection pastor.

The lawsuit says the “mask shields our humanity,” “masks God’s image” and “make us anti-social.”

Rev. Mattson said it’s important for teachers to see a student’s entire face.

“Teaching is a relationship between individuals, and we know non-verbal interaction is very powerful,” said Rev. Mattson.

And with a mask mandate in place, Mattson said it’s really the students who suffer.

“It’s the ones who struggle the most that are most harmed by having to wear their mask,” he said.

A lower court sided with the state in December setting up this week’s appeals court hearing.

But, most of Michigan’s COVID restrictions were rescinded in June.

Ingham County health officer Linda Vail says in a response filed Monday the lawsuit should be thrown out because of that.

It says there are no intentions to bring back mask mandates.

“We know that can be reinstated at anytime and we want to be able to get in front of it,” said Rev. Mattson.

Mattson said students fifth grade and younger at Resurrection never wore masks during the last school year.

And despite the mandate, he said COVID didn’t spread in the school.

“We were effective last year in staying open all year for the benefit of our students,” said Rev. Mattson.

This lawsuit was filed last October, months before vaccines were widely available and the more contagious Delta variant was an issue.

As of Tuesday, the CDC is recommending schools require masks for students who are under 12 since they aren’t eligible for any vaccine.

Rev. Mattson said plans haven’t been finalized for Resurrection, but he expects masks won’t be required.

More: Court will take new look at masks in religious schools

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