Several Michigan counties rescind school mask mandates over budget language

Whitmer says this is unconstitutional and unenforceable

Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties are keeping their K-12 school mask mandates in place, but it’s a mixed bag across the rest of the state.
Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties are keeping their K-12 school mask mandates in place, but it’s a mixed bag across the rest of the state.

DETROIT – Wayne, Oakland and Washtenaw counties are keeping their K-12 school mask mandates in place, but it’s a mixed bag across the rest of the state.

The issue is language in the budget bill passed by the Michigan Legislature and signed by the governor. In what’s known as boilerplate language, there is a section which forbids local health departments from issuing K-12 school mask mandates, and if they do have an emergency health order in place past Oct. 1, their funding is forfeited.

Read: Michigan Gov. Whitmer deems some COVID-19 budget sections unconstitutional

Read: Michigan health group pushes for statewide school mask mandate after officials threatened

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has already said this is unconstitutional and unenforceable. In a letter to the Legislature, she makes it clear the House and Senate cannot roll back the Michigan Public Health Code in a budget bill.

Some health departments are still worried. Allegan County rescinded its mask mandate, concerned it will lose $1 million in funding.

Also, the Dickinson-Iron District Health Department and the Barry-Eaton District Health Department have nixed their mask mandates for schools.

Whitmer’s legal team met with local health departments to explain this but some are still concerned or worried about protracted litigation.

Related: Tracking Michigan school districts, colleges requiring masks for 2021-2022 school year


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