By Tom Tolen & Jon King /

Unless something changes at the state level between now and September, it appears that the Brighton Area Schools will not be requiring students to wear masks when classes resume this fall.

The Michigan Dept. of Health and Human Services announced last week a recommendation that school students and staff continue to wear masks, be fully vaccinated, and observe social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, as it was merely a recommendation, Michigan school districts retain the authority to draft their own policy pertaining to masks.

After Monday’s meeting, Board of Education President Roger Myers said that, in his words, “We will only require what is mandated by state law.” As such, Myers says the district doesn’t plan to initiate a masking requirement for students when school resumes on Sept. 7th. However, he says the board will likely address the masking issue at its July 26th meeting — the only meeting of that month — to clarify the matter.

At the public comments section of the meeting, several residents urged the board to drop the masking requirement when the fall term begins. “Studies show the data doesn’t support the continued use of masks; there’s no measurable benefit,” said Mike Gatza of Brighton Twp. He also said that the continued masking requirement is having a negative emotional impact on the children. “We must strive for normalcy as much as possible,” Gatza stressed. District parent Nicole Collar said emphatically, “Remove the masks, remove all of the mandates, it’s time to move on.”

Myers reiterated that the board is only interested in following what is actually required by the state. But if the state alters the mandates due to COVID figures starting to rise again or other factors, Myers says the district has no legal authority to disregard those changes.

State health officials say while there are no plans to upgrade the recommendation to a requirement, they also note the increasing spread of COVID variants, especially the delta variant, among unvaccinated individuals.