Masks remain optional at Edwardsburg Public Schools

Published 7:42 am Friday, September 3, 2021

EDWARDSBURG — Following a vote by the board of education, masks will remain optional for students and staff at Edwardsburg Public Schools.

In a six to one vote, the Edwardsburg Board of Education voted to keep to its current back to school plan at a special meeting of the board Wednesday. The vote continues to make mask wearing optional for students and staff everywhere except for on busses, where masks are mandatory to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Trustee Natalie Frentz was the sole “no” vote.

Prior to the board’s vote, nearly an hour of public comment took place, with parents and community members sharing their opinions on masks in schools.

Many parents in attendance opposed a mask mandate saying that masks impede student learning, create social barriers or that a mandate would intrude on parent rights.

“We’ve heard the science, we’ve seen the data, and we are using our discretion as parents and our free will given by God to make these choices for our children,” said Erin Smith, a parent from Vandalia. “We want the freedom of choice.”

While many in attendance expressed support for a mask-optional approach, several community members supported a masking mandate and express their concerns with the county’s rising COVID-19 cases.

“if this piece of material [a mask] is what is going to keep my kids healthy and in school, then I want them wearing it,” said Lindsey Prochko, mother of three EPS students and a JV softball coach. “If we don’t wear masks this year, I have a couple of questions. First, are parents prepared for a two-week shutdown? Are you prepared to be a virtual teacher again? I know I’m not.”

The district’s current mask-optional policy will remain in place unless masking becomes mandated by the Van Buren/Cass District Health Department or the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

While the local health department has not yet issued a mask mandate in schools, it has strongly recommended that all individuals wear masks in public, indoor areas, regardless of vaccination status.