News Story

Will Detroit Schools Ever Unmask?

Easter came and went, but the mandate lives on

Students in Detroit are still waiting for permission to stop masking, more than a month after the mask mandate was expected to end.

Detroit Public Schools Community District Superintendent Nikolai Vitti planned to adjust masking requirements for students after Easter weekend, according to Chrystal Wilson, assistant superintendent of communications. That time has come and gone with no reprieve from masking. If the Detroit Federation of Teachers has its way, mask mandates will remain in place until at least the end of the school year, according to Chalkbeat Detroit.

Wilson told Michigan Capitol Confidential in early April that Vitti will use “science and data” to make his determination of whether to continue mask requirements in the district. Although weekly cases have significantly decreased in Wayne County since the new year, the union says 60% of its teachers do not want a voluntary mask policy.

The union went as far as to threaten a legal challenge if the requirement were removed, arguing that the teachers agreed with the district last year to continue mandatory masking through June 30.

According to Michigan’s COVID-19 data, since Jan. 1 there have been 56,320 reported cases in Wayne County and 581 deaths, which represent 0.01% of cases. It is unknown how many people who died of the disease had other conditions that contributed to their death.

The county has seen a 92% decrease in COVID cases since the beginning of the year. Wayne County reported 17,151 COVID-19 cases and 84 deaths between Jan. 1 and Jan. 8, a 0.005% fatality rate. From April 28 through May 4, the number of reported cases came to 1,365. There were two deaths reported, a 0.001% fatality rate.

Terrence Martin, president of Detroit’s teachers union, and the Detroit school district did not respond to emails seeking comment.

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.