Stephanie Rubel and her husband, Ron Rubel, address the school board about mask mandates during the Roseville Community Schools Board of Education meeting Sept. 7. Ron Rubel’s sign reads “Choose kindness, choose life, choose masks.”

Stephanie Rubel and her husband, Ron Rubel, address the school board about mask mandates during the Roseville Community Schools Board of Education meeting Sept. 7. Ron Rubel’s sign reads “Choose kindness, choose life, choose masks.”

Photo by Maria Allard

Parents urge school officials to adopt mask mandate

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 20, 2021


ROSEVILLE — With the wearing of masks currently optional for students in Roseville Community Schools, five parents voiced their concerns about the issue at the district’s Sept. 7 Board of Education meeting.

On Aug. 30, Superintendent Mark Blaszkowski issued a letter to families to help answer frequently asked questions about COVID-19. According to the letter, wearing masks is optional, although school officials “highly recommend unvaccinated individuals to wear masks.” In addition, masks must be worn on school buses at all times.

The decision for optional masks did not sit well with the parents who spoke out at the meeting and asked school officials to reconsider.

“We would like to see the school board implement a mask mandate,” said Amanda Angst, who has two children in the district. “If we’re not going to stand up to protect them, who will? I think the community needs answers. I do find it repulsive that parents are begging leadership to step up to the plate.”

Cara Brumley, whose stepson is a junior at Roseville High School, asked school officials to reconsider the optional stance on masks.

“Masks have been proven to curb the spread of COVID-19 when worn by all. The emergence of the Delta variant has made this even more pertinent, as both unvaccinated and vaccinated people can contract and spread it since it has a viral load almost 1,000 (times) higher than the alpha variant did,” Brumley said. “Masks reduce spread by infected people by about 80% and a 50% reduced risk of contraction. Mask wearing in conjunction with other precautionary measures can prevent outbreaks in our schools, thus giving our children the opportunity to remain in school in person.”

“I do think we need the mandate, as well,” John Stefanides said. “The safety of our students is the No. 1 priority.”

Stephanie Rubel and her husband, Ron Rubel, also spoke at the meeting.

“Our daughter has asthma, and we moved in with his parents to take care of them,” Stephanie Rubel said. “I’m just scared one of our kids will not make it through if they get COVID. Our children’s future depends on you.”

No one else spoke on the mask issue. Blaszkowski wasn’t surprised to hear from parents about the mask topic.

“It’s such an issue right now. It’s all over the news. There doesn’t seem to be any middle ground. It’s divisionary,” he said. “I appreciate the way (the parents) presented themselves. They shared their thoughts. They were very respectful. It’s about their kids. They want what’s best for their kids.”

Blaszkowski said that it was a joint decision between administrators and the school board to give parents the choice of having their children wear masks or not.

“We always listen to what the parents have to say and take that into consideration,” Blaszkowski said. “We’re trying to get the kids back in the schools, and we’re trying to do it with mitigation factors and cleaning procedures. We’re trying to do as much as we can and still have kids at school.”

He also encouraged parents of children ages 12 and older to have them get the COVID-19 vaccine, adding that vaccinated students will not have to quarantine, should there be a COVID-19 outbreak. There also could come a time in which school officials would enforce a mask mandate.

“If a building seems to be having issues with cases, that might trigger a mask mandate for a period of time,” the superintendent said.

In his Aug. 30 letter, Blaszkowski confirmed what school officials are doing to help prevent the virus from spreading. That includes continuing with its cleaning protocol, including the cleaning of touch points throughout the day, the disinfection of rooms of positive cases, regular use of hand sanitizer and increased heating, ventilation and air conditioning filter changes and outside air flow. School officials also are in touch with local health representatives.

“We consult with the Macomb County Health Department every week,” Blaszkowski said. “We are listening to their guidelines.”

The mask issue has been brought up in other districts. At the Aug. 18 Warren Consolidated Schools Board of Education meeting, parents spoke on both sides of the issue. At the time, school officials in that district said masks would be optional. However, they changed their minds and issued a mask mandate in which all students, staff and visitors would have to wear masks all day.

Heather Swartz-Berg was one of the Warren Con parents not in favor of a mask mandate.

“My daughter has extreme anxiety. The minute she puts on a mask, she can’t breathe, she can’t function. This causes me great concern. I don’t believe putting something over my children’s face is going to help them in their education,” Swartz-Berg said. “I totally respect everybody’s decision if they want masks or if they don’t want masks. I think a lot of our fear comes from the media. I choose not to live in that fear.”