Theis Bills Aim To Block Student Mask, Vaccine Requirements
October 27, 2021
By Jessica Mathews & Jon King / email@example.com
The Michigan Senate approved legislation Tuesday that aims to block requirements for children to wear face masks at school or receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
The four-bill package passed on a party-line vote of 19-15.
Senate Bill 600, sponsored by Brighton Township Republican Lana Theis, would prevent Michigan school districts from requiring vaccines that have been authorized under emergency use or an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination for students to attend school or members of the public to attend school board meetings.
In response, Democratic State Senator Curtis Hertel of East Lansing said the bill was creating doubt about basic medical recommendations that will stem the pandemic. “This body is actually putting Michigan citizens in danger. I’ve now watched week after week as the health policy committee, the education committee turn into a place where conspiracy theories, lies and nonsense reign.”
It would be easy to just dismiss these bills as political rhetoric and nonsense, to just ignore it and let it go, but we have reached a point well beyond that, where this body is actually putting Michigan citizens in danger. pic.twitter.com/HVBlD1MTIW— Senator Curtis Hertel (@CurtisHertelJr) October 26, 2021
SB 601, also sponsored by Theis, would allow students to receive a waiver from wearing a face mask at school and prohibit schools from testing asymptomatic students for COVID-19 infection to ride a school bus or enter a school building.
SB 602 would similarly prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services from requiring students to receive a vaccine that has only been authorized under emergency use or an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination, from wearing a face mask and from being tested for COVID-19 if asymptomatic to enter a school, ride a bus or participate in school activities.
SB 603 would prohibit local health departments from requiring students to receive a vaccine that has only been authorized under emergency use or an FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccination, from wearing a face mask and from being tested for COVID-19 if asymptomatic to enter a school, ride a bus or participate in school activities. It would also prevent them from requiring individuals from the same to attend school board meetings.
Simultaneously, federal regulators are considering the authorization of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine for children ages 5 to 11. An advisory committee to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted Tuesday that there is enough evidence that the shot is safe and effective for that age group. The FDA isn’t bound by the recommendation and is expected to make its own decision within days.
Senate Republicans maintain decisions should be made by parents alone. Theis said in a press release that “Our children are not His Majesty Joe Biden’s subjects. Neither he nor government bureaucrats and school administrators have the authority or the right to make children’s health care decisions for them — including whether they receive a COVID-19 vaccine or wear a face mask. It is solely up to their parents. Period.”
The Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators oppose the bills. Democrats argue the legislation promotes conspiracy theories and is simply a waste of time as there are no vaccine mandates for students.
Currently, decisions regarding face coverings are being left up to individual school districts and local health departments. There are no mandates of any kind in Livingston County but student quarantines have been up. LCHD Health Promotion Coordinator and Public Information Officer Courtney Rynkiewicz told WHMI “in general, student cases remain high, but have been trending downward over the last week as well as school-related exclusions (formally called quarantine)”. Districts without mask requirements are experiencing higher case rates according to the state health department.
The bills now head to the House of Representatives for consideration.