Proposal to defy mask mandate tabled

Proposal to defy mask mandate tabled

Photo credit: Farrah Fasse

By Farrah Fasse, Editor-in-Chief

On Nov. 18, Board Trustee Lisa Papas withdrew her resolution to implement a mask-optional policy in Grosse Pointe Public Schools from the board’s voting agenda. If approved, the resolution would have defied Wayne County Health Department’s mask mandate for all schools. Papas’ resolution was discussed at the Nov. 8 work session of the Board, where its legality and public health impacts were debated. 

 In her resolution, Papas said she included a specific stipulation that would give staff, students and community members the freedom to choose whether or not to wear a mask. 

“I put in a specific resolution into that resolution that protected anybody that wished to wear a mask — staff, students or community members,” Papas said. “So, I was really trying to protect everybody’s right to choose. My resolution was to just honor choice and allow people to make the choice [of] whether to wear a mask or not.” 

As he says his expertise is in education rather than public health, Superintendent Jon Dean turns to the health department for information regarding COVID-19 precautions to ensure students can stay in school. 

“I think that my primary goal is to make sure we provide a standing face-to-face instruction,” Dean said. “I don’t enjoy wearing my mask. At the same time, I am probably just about as good — or not as good — as superintendent with my mask as without. The health department says I need to wear it. I know that masks do matter and they keep everyone safe for you and me, and I can still go about doing my job.”

Though a legal opinion from Clark Hill PLC regarding the issue, given at the request of the Board, stated that GPPSS could face serious legal repercussions if the resolution was passed, Papas would like to reintroduce her resolution after further discussion and obtaining more legal opinions. 

I asked [Board President Joseph Herd and Superintendent Jon Dean] to withdraw it from the agenda on the 22nd for voting so we could have time to get additional legal opinions, and have an additional discussion just about the legal ramifications of that resolution, so that’s why I withdrew it,” Papas said. “It is really based on legal decisions and legal opinions, it’s not that I want the resolution taken off. I still support it, I still believe in it, but we are taking a breath and having some additional conversations.”