By Tom Tolen /

At its regular meeting Monday night, the Brighton Board of Education heard many parents — including several who live in the Howell and Pinckney School districts - speak on the topic of requiring that children wear protective masks in school.

The board is back to a virtual format in line with state mandates; therefore, those who commented did so virtually. A total of 21 people commented - 13 of them opposed to the mandate requiring that Brighton children wear masks in the classroom. Those opposed to the requirement gave detailed reasons why they are opposed, such as their child having a medical problem that made wearing the masks difficult. Others who commented were either supportive of the school district and the steps it has taken to ensure that kids wear masks in school, or addressed the board on other issues.

Before the public comments portion of the meeting, Board President Roger Myers read a prepared statement which says, in part, “The mask mandate is dictated by the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services and we, as a school district, have no legal authority to change that mandate that was issued by the state.” Myers suggested that “If anyone on either side of that issue feels strongly about changing that law, their advocacy needs to be toward the Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services.” He encouraged concerned residents to, as he put it, “contact that department and advocate for the change that they feel is appropriate.” Myers concluded by reiterating that since state laws and regulations supersede local laws, the board and district are powerless to violate the state mandate.

While several parents gave specific reasons why they felt their child should not have to comply with the mask mandate, others supported the board and district for the steps it has taken to ensure the safety of students and staff. Miriam Finet thanked the board for following the state regulations regarding masks and other requirements. And Caitlyn Perry Dial, who was an unsuccessful candidate for the Board of Education last November, thanked members “for following the public health guidelines.”

One of those speaking against the use of masks was Dr. Gianina Cazan-London, an OB/GYN from Howell who works part-time as a per diem doctor at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing. She thanked the board for maintaining face-to-face classroom learning for most of the school year. She said she was, in her words, “very impressed with the (Brighton) school board just for the fact that you are open this year.”

However, as she has at recent board meetings in Howell and Pinckney, she again made claims about masks and oxygen levels that a Sparrow Hospital spokesman previously told WHMI were “not consistent with the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, among other professional associations” adding that Dr. Cazan-London “is not a medical expert in infectious respiratory disease nor in treating children.”