Schoolcraft schools comply with mask mandate

By Travis Smola

Schoolcraft public schools will comply with an order from the Kalamazoo County Department of Health imposing a mask mandate as a precaution against COVID-19.

The mandate requires children in grades kindergarten through six to wear a mask at school. It was issued just weeks before the school year began. Prior to this decision, Superintendent Rick Frens and the school board at an August board meeting indicated the district would not enforce a mask mandate. Board members also stated in that meeting the district would respect the choices of students and staff on vaccinations and mask wearing.

However, during a special meeting held later in the month with a large turnout, Frens recommended the district comply with the mask mandate, which was approved by the board. Frens clarified later that the district complied to avoid penalties from the health department.

“This past week we received clarification around compliance with the mandate and have put procedures and protocols in place to ensure compliance,” Frens wrote in an email. “The health department does have the ability to impose fines and penalties, which could ultimately close our school buildings. We have a duty to ensure all our kids are in class with their teachers five days a week, and we are going to focus our energies on a positive start to the school year.”

In other news, the board also approved contracts between the district, the Kalamazoo County Education Association and the Schoolcraft Education Association.

The board also approved giving the Eagles’ name to the formation of a sixth through 12th grade high school clay target team. Athletic Director Jeff Clark has been pushing for the program for years. He noted that the costs of participation, about $300, is all on the families. If a student makes it to state contests, there is an additional $45 charge.

All participants must have a hunter safety certification or pass a gun safety program prior to being allowed on the range. Firearms will not be allowed on school grounds; all shooting will be at Lake Osterhout Conservation Club. Student athletes will be subject to eligibility checks. While it is not an MHSAA sport, all participating schools follow its guidelines.

The plan is to start with a trial run of 10 students this fall. If all goes well, the program will be expanded in the spring. The motion to establish the team passed unanimously.

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