Lakeshore Public Schools cites increasing number of quarantines in new mask mandate

NOW: Lakeshore Public Schools cites increasing number of quarantines in new mask mandate

STEVENSVILLE, Mich. — After a Monday night meeting, Lakeshore’s school board decided to pass a mask requirement for K-12 students and staff.

It’s a relief for some parents after their district started the year without a mandate and the Berrien County Health Department’s mask order was rescinded two weeks ago.

“I read a letter representing 106 Lakeshore parents, staff and residents who were in favor of reinstating a mask requirement, we felt it was important the board hear people in favor of it,” said Mark Pickens, a Lakeshore Parent.

The superintendent wrote in a letter to families that the district got new guidance on quarantines from the Berrien County Health Department, saying, “When schools are universally masked, no quarantine is required and no testing is required regardless of vaccination.”

But some parents aren’t happy with the ever-changing standards.  

“A week ago, if someone was subjected COVID and they were wearing a mask they needed to be quarantined, whereas all of a sudden they don’t have to be quarantined anymore,” said Nicole Railsback, a Lakeshore Parent. “I love Lakeshore, I don’t want to seem combative but at the same time, not being able to make a parental choice over my child is alarming.”

Lakeshore said in the past eight days its had 66 students in quarantine.

School Board President Jason Beckrow told ABC57 in a statement, "The primary goal of the LPS BOE is to maximize student safety and student achievement. We believe that students must be in school as much as possible to achieve these goals, and the growing number of quarantines were becoming a barrier to these goals. By initiating a universal mask mandate we have largely eliminated most if not all quarantines and have significantly increased the number of students in their classrooms and with their teachers. This is why the LPS BOE voted unanimously to institute a universal mask mandate.”

For parents in favor of this decision, it gives students the best chance at continuing in-person learning.

“The current requirement for quarantine was really putting an untenable position, which makes it harder to learn, harder for the teachers, the kids can’t do sports or other activities,” said Pickens. 

For those on the other side, much of the benefit to being face-to-face is lost.

“How does my autistic son go through speech therapy when he has a mask on, kids who are hearing impaired, how can they read lips, when a child is sad how can a teacher smile at them,” said Railsback.

Lakeshore did not include an end date for its mask order in its letter.

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