As students have returned to in-person learning across West Michigan, many districts are now dealing with Covid outbreaks. Local health departments have been monitoring the situations across the area, but on Monday one local school board defied Health Department recommendations while cases surge in their local district.

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The Wayland Union School Board voted 6-1 against the Allegan County Health Department's recommendation that students wear masks for the next two weeks to prevent the spread and slow the district's surging cases of Covid-19.

The high school alone has had 18 students test positive for COVID, as well as one staff member, and one coach since the start of the school year.

📷 Wayland Union Schools | Board Of Education
📷 Wayland Union Schools | Board Of Education

The school had only been in session 9 full days as of the vote on Monday night. As such, the ACHD made the recommendations to the board at the end of last week.

Rather than taking issue with the merits of the Health Department's recommendations, many board members seemed to be hung up on the timing and semantics of the temporary masking request:

I’m a tad frustrated with the health department for not doing this (making such recommendations) in a timely manner. It’s too delayed, in my opinion. -Board Secretary Janel Hott

I’m disappointed with our health department. If they feel this (temporary universal masking) is important, they should mandate it. -Board Vice President Pete Zondervan

The only dissenting vote came from newly elected board member Jason Shane:

Our biggest concern last year was keeping the kids in the classroom...if we don’t get this (virus) under control we’ll be going against everything we wanted to do. I think we need to be proactive here.

The Wayland School Board is no stranger to bucking the Health Department's recommendations, back in April the board decided to maintain in-person instruction during the Spring Covid surge before vaccinations were available for those 12+. Seven days later, as cases continued to rise, the board was forced into voting for a hybrid instruction model to keep students and staffers safe.

Note: a request was sent Tuesday for comments from all board members and School Superintendent Dr. Christina Hinds. As of this posting, they have not responded.

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