Clintondale Community Schools adopts temporary mask mandate amid 'uptick' in COVID-19

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Despite no mask mandate in Macomb County, Clintondale Community Schools became the latest local district to adopt its own rule, albeit a temporary one.

The district's board of education voted Monday to require masks be worn by all preK-12 students, teachers, staff and visitors at all district buildings from Oct. 18 to Jan 31. The vote was unanimous by the seven-member board.

School spokesman Bill Roose said the board made the move amid a continued uptick in the rate of spread and severity of COVID-19 and in order to maintain five-day-a-week in-person instruction.

"This should prevent the need for prolonged quarantines or transitions to remote learning because of disease spread," the district said in a Tuesday news release.

Approximately 25 people attend the Macomb County Parents for Safe In-Person School rally in front of the Macomb County Health Department to ask the health department to mandate mask wearing for all Macomb County K-12 students on Aug. 25, 2021.

The mask rule will also apply for spectators at all indoor athletics and extracurricular events during and after school hours, but not for student-athletes or game officials, Roose said.

Earlier this month, 105 students from the district were at home in quarantine after a teacher exposed them to COVID-19 in late September. All the students returned on Oct. 5.

The district recently surveyed parents and guardians on mask wearing "in times of high-community spread" in order to keep students in the classroom, Roose said.

Of the 240 responses it received, 77.1% favored a mask mandate and 82.9% said the board should temporarily require masks in times of high-community spread to maximize face-to-face learning.

Eight of the county's 21 districts have some mask rules while 13 remain mask optional. The Macomb County Intermediate School District has a mask rule at its own buildings.

Emily Mellits, a member of Macomb County Parents for Safe In-Person School and a Washington Township parent, thanked the district for "listening to science" and leading by example.

"Clinton Community Schools Superintendent Rodriguez Broadnax and the district’s board members took action to protect the health of children and families, and they deserve credit for this critical decision," Mellits said.

The group has called for Macomb County to issue a countywide mask mandate and make outbreak data public.

The Macomb County Health Department told The Detroit News last month that it reports school-related COVID-19 information to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which includes the information on its online dashboard.