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Parents push for all Jackson County schools to mandate masks

Jackson Public Schools starts requirement Tuesday
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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JACKSON, Mich. (WILX) - Thousands of students in mid-Michigan are required to wear a mask when they go to school Tuesday. Jackson Public Schools is the only public school district in the county to mandate masks, and parents are pushing more districts to follow.

JPS made the change after more than 400 students were deemed a close contact with someone who had COVID. Most of those students had to quarantine. The district said with the mask mandate, students would still be able to go to school unless they are sick or are waiting for a COVID test result.

Nicole Melton has one kid at JPS who was a close contact.

“Panicked. It was very scary to hear that my daughter was in close contact,” said Melton.

Melton also has kids who go to Northwest Community Schools, where masks are still optional.

“We were really worried without the mandate,” said Melton.

She is one of many parents pushing for a mask requirement for all schools in the county. For her, it’s about making sure the entire community stays safe.

“Having a mandate in Jackson, but not at Northwest, it creates a conflict where we are still, the county is still going to see those numbers rising,” said Melton.

“We have a lot of interaction with each other. We’re not just one school. We all have kids who are friends with each other within the schools, neighbors. I think it’s about the community coming together as a whole and caring for each other,” said Emily Townsend, who also had a child deemed a close contact.

All 12 public school superintendents got together with the Jackson County Health Department before the school year started and decided to keep masks optional in schools.

The CDC and state recommend masks be worn in schools.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on the superintendents to try and please everybody so I understood they didn’t want to upset the people who were against mask mandates,” said Townsend.

The mask mandate in JPS will be in place for the month of September. The district said it will re-evaluate to determine if it will be extended.

The Ingham County Health Department is requiring all students through 12th grade to wear a mask starting Tuesday. Only about 3% of the public school students in the county are affected by the change since most districts already have a mask requirement.

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