Another mask mandate debate brews in Grosse Pointe as school board considers defying county health order

Another mask mandate debate is brewing in Grosse Pointe after parents and community members engaged in an emotionally-charged discussion Monday night during a board meeting that went until almost midnight. 

The question of whether school districts have the authority to ignore county mask orders dominated the discussion after Trustee Lisa Papas proposed a resolution that "releases" students and staff from Wayne County's mask order.

Papas said students could "suffer" by missing instruction because they were wearing a mask. Citing "division on the issue" in "every community," Papas endorsed the resolution, arguing it holds water since the state's latest budget agreement deemed local health department orders were unenforceable. 

Several health departments around the state removed their mask orders over concerns they could lose funding as a result. 

But some mask mandates remain, including in both Wayne and Oakland County. 

Masks in schools became a flashpoint for discussion over the summer and it burned bright in Grosse Pointe. Familiar tensions continued to show during last night's meeting.

"The longer Grosse Pointe Public School system continues to rely on an unenforceable mask order that violates state law, the more likely it becomes that Grosse Pointe Public School system be named in a defendant in a lawsuit," said one speaker.

"We have issues and topics literally dividing this community, one person against the other and by the way, the speaker before me does not have kids in the school district," said another speaker. "All of my kids are in the public education system of this very community."

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The Grosse Pointe School Board says it intends to discuss the matter again during its next meeting after seeking a legal opinion. 

Wayne County health order requiring masks in school went into effect on Aug. 27.

Grosse Pointe's next meeting, scheduled for Nov. 22, would be where board members could vote on Papas' resolution.