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Republican bills would ban school COVID-19 vaccine or mask mandates

Senators say the government should be able to require vaccines for students to attend school
The Michigan Capitol in Lansing
The Michigan Capitol in Lansing(WJRT)
Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:31 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - Republicans introduced four bills into the Michigan Senate designed to provide equal access to education for all students regardless of their COVID-19 vaccine status.

A main point of the bills is prohibiting any statewide orders requiring children to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine or wear face coverings in school.

“After a year of the state asserting control over much of our lives, it is imperative that we continue to protect the rights of Michigan parents to decide what health care actions are best for their children and families,” said Republican State Sen. Lana Theis of Brighton. “No government entity should be able to force an individual to get a COVID-19 vaccine, nor should these vaccines be required for a child to go to school or participate in school-related activities.”

Senate Bill 600 would prohibit schools from requiring a COVID-19 vaccine to attend classes, ride a school bus, attend any school-sponsored event, attend a school board meeting or participate in extracurricular activities. The bill also prohibits schools from discriminating between vaccinated and unvaccinated students.

Senate Bill 601 would prohibit schools from requiring a face covering for students to attend school, from COVID-19 testing asymptomatic students or from discriminating between tested and untested students.

Senate Bill 602 would prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health officials from instituting any rule that requires a COVID-19 vaccine, face covering or take a COVID-19 test when asymptomatic to participate in any school activity.

Senate Bill 603 would prohibit the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and local health officials ordering students to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask or take a COVID-19 test to participate in school activities. The bill also would include any member of the public who wants to attend a school board meeting.

“For over a year, certain state officials have used constantly changing orders and guidelines to exert unilateral control over the lives of Michigan residents and the education of Michigan students,” said Republican State Sen. Tom Barrett of Charlotte. “We must continue to limit these overreaching measures and defend the rights of Michiganders to make their own health care decisions based on what is best for their own families.”

Republicans introduced the bills on the same day that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its guidance on face coverings in schools. The federal health organization says everyone in K-12 schools should wear a face covering this year regardless of COVID-19 vaccine status.

All four bills are pending in the Committee on Education and Career Readiness. They would have to pass the committee, the full House and the Michigan Senate before Gov. Gretchen Whitmer could decide whether to sign them into law.

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