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Viral video shows maskless students protesting mandate outside Washtenaw County high school

County health department issues mask mandate

Viral video maskless students protesting mandate
Viral video maskless students protesting mandate

MANCHESTER, Mich. – A video shows parents in Washtenaw County urging their kids to ignore their high school’s mask mandate and enter the school.

The Manchester Community Schools district originally had masks optional. However, when the county’s emergency health order went into effect Tuesday, it superseded the district’s rule.

But some parents and their students were not ready to abide by it.

Read: Washtenaw County issues mask mandate for K-12 schools

After confirming that police will not stop them, parents encouraged their kids go inside without masks.

Students were finally allowed in and were taken to the library apart from everyone else.

“It’s absolutely insane,” said parent Jeremy Rippey.

Rippey believes in masking up but think it should be everyone’s choice.

The insanity isn’t the “mob mentality” -- as he said -- in the video, but the hypocrisy of the county health department.

“They have no problem allowing 110,000 people in ‘The Big House’ to yell and scream and breathe all over each other, but you have 300 kids in a school and all of a sudden it’s a big deal,” Rippey said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she has not seen the video but it would not sway her to order a mask mandate.

“I ask that parents afford teachers and those that are on the frontlines some grace and support masking up. It’s the best thing for their students and it’s the best thing for our ability to recover from the academic disruption that COVID’s created,” Whitmer said.

Twenty-four hours after the video, the district superintendent said it was a different scene.

“After sending out communications last night, our students came in peacefully with masks on,” said superintendent Brad Bezeau. “Manchester has always been a place that’s come together around things. Hopefully after some struggles, we can do that again, because that’s always been the hallmark for our community.”

The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office issued a statement:

“Law enforcement is there to keep the peace, help keep people calm, to de-escalate situations, to explain and to advise. We are not there to cite people for a PH (public health) violation. It can become a legal/enforceable action if things get out of hand and some other enforceable action is needed like an assault or destruction of property. However, what has been working for us most of the time is explaining to community members and making sure they understand what the PH order is and what can happen.”

Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office

About the Author:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.