Michigan judge rejects challenge to masks, virus tests for school athletes

Judge says state law ‘plainly gives’ authority to health director to issue emergency orders in response to pandemic

A boy wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP) (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images)
A boy wearing a face mask to protect against the spread of the novel coronavirus (Photo by Gabriel BOUYS / AFP) (Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images) (Gabriel Bouys | Getty Images)

DETROIT – A judge on Wednesday rejected a request to stop coronavirus testing of Michigan school athletes and other steps ordered by the state health department.

An injunction isn't appropriate at this stage because a group called Let Them Play Michigan and its allies are unlikely to win the case, said Judge Michael Kelly of the Court of Claims.

The group argued that health department orders, especially quarantines and weekly virus testing for athletes ages 13 to 19, should have gone through a formal rule-making process.

But Kelly said state law “plainly gives” authority to the health director to issue emergency orders in response to a pandemic.

“Plaintiffs’ briefing has done no more than point out that plaintiffs disagree with certain provisions of the order. That disagreement, however, does not demonstrate an arbitrary or capricious decision,” the judge said.

Spring lacrosse and soccer players must wear masks at all times. Athletes in baseball, golf, softball, tennis and track must wear a mask when on the sideline but not when actively competing, according to the Michigan High School Athletic Association.

Previous coverage: Judge hears arguments for and against COVID testing requirements for young Michigan athletes


About the Authors:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.