Dear Blackhawk Families:
We have had a whirlwind the past 21 months with the pandemic’s impact on our community and School District. We have navigated these unprecedented times through often unpredictable, conflicting and unclear directives, including periods of silence, from Federal, State, and local governments. Our District continues to educate our students to the standards that we hold true and dear to our hearts.
We have heard from many of you with various perspectives -- and we are listening. We understand these times are confusing for all and we share your frustration. While this communication may not answer all concerns you (and we) may have, we thought it may be helpful to track where we’ve been and where we are.
As our administrators and staff prepared for the current school year, they consistently sought information about restrictions that may affect in-person learning and activities at our schools. Despite their efforts, the Oakland County Health Department (OCHD) and the State provided very little, if any, information about restrictions they intended for the pending school year, other than masks were highly recommended at school while indoors.
Then, on August 24, 2021 in the evening, the OCHD issued an order imposing a mask mandate for all County school districts. With the pandemic now bridging portions of three academic years, we provided options to our families for learning, opened our doors, and kept moving forward.
On September 29th, 2021, Governor Whitmer signed into law Public Act 87 of 2021, which, in part, prohibits local health departments from issuing mask mandates to any person under age 18. Governor Whitmer, however, also issued a signing statement which advised that the Act’s prohibitions against local health departments issuing level mask mandates were unconstitutional and unenforceable. As of the writing of this letter, the OCHD has not rescinded its order imposing mask mandates.
The Act’s directives, the potential unconstitutionality and unenforceability of those directives, and the continued OCHD mask mandate present mixed messages. In seeking clarity, the Board is informed that the OCHD order mandating masks remains in effect and that the District is advised it must continue complying with the order. Without a court ruling addressing the enforceability of either the Act or the OCHD order, or some other clarifying event, the District remains legally bound to obey the OCHD order until it is rescinded by the OCHD. The consequences for noncompliance with the OCHD order are significant, including criminal sanctions, extensive financial risk to the District, and unknown effects relating to matters such as quarantine mandates. Suffering these consequences could jeopardize the District’s ability to provide our students with the high standard of education and extracurricular activities that they deserve and for which our District is known.
Each new event affecting the mask mandate and the pandemic presents new questions often not quickly or clearly answered, yet greatly affecting school communities. To inform its decision-making as events unfold, the Board of Education and Administration will continue to seek guidance from our District's legal counsel and engage with authorities and individuals about these important issues.
We as the Brandon Board of Education will continue to partner with our families to help fight this pandemic and the struggles it has presented to each and every one of us. We want to continue dialogue and listen to all concerns.
We are in this together. WE ARE BLACKHAWKS!
Brandon Board of Education Dr. Karl Heidrich
Lisa Kavalhuna, President
Diane Salter, Vice-President
Melissa Clark, Secretary
Kim Smith-Kulaga, Treasurer
Rebecca Haynes, Trustee
Hilary Stockoski, Trustee
Jeff Zielke, Trustee
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