Michigan school district makes masks mandatory after community vote

FILE - In this Sept. 1, 2021, file photo, children wearing face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus walk in the corridor as they return to primary school in the village of Belegis, west of Belgrade, Serbia. In the Balkan nations that are among Europes poorest, meanwhile, low vaccination rates and surging outbreaks have made it difficult to get kids back to class after a year and a half. (AP Photo/Darko Vojinovic, File) (Darko Vojinovic, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. – Masks are mandatory in a southwestern Michigan school district after officials set the policy in an unusual way: They took a vote of the people.

Parents, guardians and staff in the Pennfield district voted for masks, starting Monday and lasting through Feb. 18. There were 1,041 votes, and about 58% were in favor.

Masks to reduce the risk of COVID-19 will not be required for after-school activities or athletic events in the Battle Creek-area district, though they will be highly recommended.

Classes have been online since Jan. 14.

Pennfield has had at least six COVID-19 outbreaks, according to the Calhoun County health department.

Interim Superintendent Don Myers believes masks were favored because the community is “tired of students being quarantined all the time.”

“We just want to make Pennfield a good place for our students and a safe place, and we’re doing all that we can to keep the virus down,” Myers told WWMT-TV.