LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Retired Brandywine superintendent applauds St. Joseph’s leadership

Published 2:10 pm Friday, August 27, 2021

I applaud Superintendent Fee and the St. Joseph Board of Education for standing up for the health and welfare of their students. Despite vocal opposition from parents and students, they are requiring students to mask up (for now). I believe Benton Harbor and St. Joseph are the only Berrien County ones taking this step and looking out for kids. As a young rookie principal in St. Joe many years ago, my superintendent, Fred Richardson, told me on day one that my Job One was to always do my best to protect the health and safety of the boys and girls in my school. Clearly, such belief is still paramount in the minds of educational leaders in St. Joe and Benton Harbor.

I am sorry that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has not followed the recommendations of Dr. Joneigh Kaldun by issuing a directive for schools to require masks. I am equally disappointed that our Berrien County Health Department hasn’t stepped up and issued mask mandates for at least younger students (K-6) who are not even eligible to receive vaccines. Their counterparts in Allegan, Ottawa, Genessee, Kalamazoo, and Kent counties have all done this.

Governor Whitmer, Berrien County Health Department, Superintendents, and Boards of Education, please ask yourselves this question: What’s your “Job One” when it comes to the health and safety of boys and girls, and are you doing that job?

John Jarpe