The Michigan Senate passed on Tuesday a series of bills that would ban vaccine and mask mandates to stop the spread of COVID-19 in schools.
The votes were along party lines with the Republican majority pushing them through.
Republican senators say they want parents to have the final decision on whether their children are vaccinated or wear masks in school.
“We introduced these bills regardless of the efficacy of masks and vaccines at combating COVID-19 because the parents are responsible for their children’s health and well-being not the bureaucracy.” —Sen. Lana Theis
Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton) says it doesn’t matter that masks and vaccinations are effective in stopping the spread of the coronavirus.
“We introduced these bills regardless of the efficacy of masks and vaccines at combating COVID-19 because the parents are responsible for their children’s health and well-being not the bureaucracy,” she says.
Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Charlotte) says mask and vaccine rules for kids are government overreach. “That’s why we need legislation that protects and defines clearly — draws a line in the sand — and says these are our rights as parents that the government cannot cross.”
Michigan schools already require many vaccines at enrollment and a process exists for vaccine exemptions.
Sen. Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing) says the bills are unnecessary.
“Again it would be easy to dismiss this as just political games if it wasn’t so damn dangerous to the future of this state,” he says.
Gov. Whitmer Likely to Veto
A recent University of Michigan study shows there were fewer outbreaks and illnesses in school districts where mask mandates were in place.
Sen. Erika Geiss (D-Taylor) says the science shows masks and vaccines help keep kids from catching the coronavirus.
“Let me hit you with some facts. Some top headlines: ‘Schools without mask mandates more likely to have COVID outbreak, study says.’ ‘CDC: COVID outbreaks far higher at schools without mask mandates.’ ‘More outbreaks infecting more students at Michigan schools.’ That’s just the top three just from a simple Google search.”
One bill would also prevent schools from testing asymptomatic kids for the disease.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer — who on Tuesday directed the state to expedite the ordering of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5-11 so that it will be quickly available once the federal government gives it the green light — would likely veto the bills if they reach her desk.
Emergency approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to inoculate kids 5 and up is expected early next month.