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Macomb County parents make plea for mask mandates in schools, place pressure on state and local leaders

Michigan COVID deaths top 20K

Students express concern about anti-mask rhetoric
Students express concern about anti-mask rhetoric

DETROIT – CDC Director Rochelle Walensky recently advised students to wear masks in schools as a safety precaution against COVID-19.

Health experts recommend wearing a mask indoors, whether you are vaccinated or not when community transmission reaches a high or substantial level.

In Michigan 81 out of 83 counties fall under that guidance as of Tuesday.

Some parents say they feel bullied for following the advice of experts.

Parents following the science and not social media called the Macomb County Parents for Safe in Person School have organized to put pressure on the governor, state and county health departments and the Macomb Intermediate School District or MISD to mandate mask-wearing when school starts in the fall.

“We are so exhausted. We can’t handle this fight. Someone else has to do it for us,” said one parent.

These parents say they are feeling bullying from parents who have mounted their own very organized and persistent anti-mask mandate campaign.

However, it goes beyond that to name calling.

“It has always been a tight-knit community, but it is divided now. It is a problem. I’m shaking right now to be honest with you,” said Alicia, another parent.

This is what the parents say they feel almost every day because they choose to mask-up in public settings where they don’t know the vaccine status of the people around them.

Since Friday, another parent named Emily who is organizing parents to fight back against the very loud voices against school mask mandates says she has been harassed on social media and feels threatened.

In fact, many of these parents say in their northern Macomb communities they feel targeted and threatened, because they choose to wear masks.

Macomb County Sheriff Anthony Wickersham says he is very aware of the mounting rhetoric on social media and in the community.

He acknowledges the fine line between freedom of speech and thinly veiled threats and harassment.

“When it becomes where you feel intimidated, you feel threatened. You feel that maybe your house, your kids, family might be in jeopardy then it is time to reach out to law enforcement and let us get involved,” said Wickersham.

Read more: Michigan COVID: Here’s what to know Aug. 24, 2021

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 933,394 as of Monday, including 20,123 deaths, state officials report.

Monday’s update includes a total of 3,920 new cases and 10 additional deaths over a three-day period -- an average of about 1,306.7 cases per day. Of the 10 deaths announced Monday, five were identified during a Vital Records review.


About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Natasha Dado is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit.