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Mask-Free Democrats Caucus In Detroit While City’s Schoolchildren Forced To Cover Faces

Correction: The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services recommended schools require masks, but the decision was left to school districts or local health departments.

Two recent events in Detroit illustrate an ongoing disconnect between political elites and the people they are supposed to represent. The Michigan Democratic Party held a convention at Huntington Place in Detroit on April 9, and according to images and video from the event, face masks were not required.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrest, Attorney General Dana Nessel, and Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson all appeared without masks. There is no mention of a COVID-19 policy for the event on the party’s social media and website.

The Michigan Democratic Party posted a link to an April 10 Michigan Advance story that had three pictures, including shots of Whitmer, Nessel and Benson without masks. The story also included a photo of about a half dozen children on stage at the event not wearing masks.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services had recommended a mask mandate on children attending schools but rescinded that recommendation on Feb. 16. The final decision was left to school districts or local health departments.

But a different set of rules applies each day to children attending Detroit’s public schools. Their spring break ended on April 1, a week before the convention. As students were returning to class, Detroit Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti announced a mask mandate would remain in force there.

Vitti wrote on the school district’s website: “I hope everyone has enjoyed their first day back from break. I wanted to take a moment and update everyone on our mask mandate for employees and students. Currently, all individuals inside DPSCD school buildings, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask unless you are outdoors.”

Vitti noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Michigan Health Department, no longer recommend masking indoors. But citing the Detroit Health Department and low vaccination rates in the city, he wrote, the district would end its masking requirement later than others would. Nearly all students are regularly tested for COVID-19, but school officials will not end the mask mandate until “students who do not consent to COVID testing move to a virtual school environment.”

Detroit Public Schools Community District spokeswoman Chrystal Wilson stated that Vitti told the school board on Tuesday the district will "continue to monitor the science and data and possibly be adjusting the requirement at the end of the week or following the Easter weekend."

On Jan. 3, 2022, there were 3,569 confirmed cases of COVID in Wayne County when COVID cases were peaking in the state. As of April 5 (the most recent date data is available), there were 79 confirmed cases in Wayne County.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.