Outside of Byron Center Van Singel Fine Arts Center, in Byron Center, Michigan, parents stood outside waiting for their school board meeting to open the doors. The doors open, and a woman wearing a mask walks outside with a stack of cards and pens. People that wish to speak are requested to fill out a card requesting full names, address, and affiliation.
The masked woman says this will help the public speaking portion of the meeting go smoothly, but there were questions. Upon doing research I did find in Byron Center’s Board Member Ethics, Public Participation at Board Meetings 0167.3.C. Participants must be recognized by the presiding officer and will be requested to preface their comments by and announcement of their name, address, and/or group affiliation.
The parents testifying were very respectful and gracious, yet firm with the school board. They want decisions based on the community. And they are trusting the board to make the best decisions for their kids.
There is urgency with the school board to not force students to get vaccinated. Parents feel this will create discrimination due to vaccine status.
One parent, whom has a student athlete, was forced to be tested 28 times in order to compete. Vaccinated kids no longer need to be tested, yet unvaccinated still require testing. He has been forced to compete out of state.
The parents voiced their thanks to the board for letting their kids have winter sports, as well as hosting prom. This was many thanks to the Let Them Play movement, in which the governor finally allowed children to play sports in mid-January. So although it wasn’t a full season, they were thankful.
Dr. Angela Sanders, OD of Academy of Vision Development, PLLC testified as she has children that attend the school. She treats patients in vision therapy and athletes with vision dysfunction. All the school children that have come thru have worse visual skills in the last year from wearing masks. “They’re not improving as quickly as they used to with mask wearing.” She stated that all the school going children have worse visual skills, lower oxygen and higher CO2 levels. This puts them in a constant sympathetic overdrive, or “fight of flight” mode which increased anxiety, slows reaction time, puts athletes at an increased risk of getting blind sighted while playing sports. Learning has also decreased in reading comprehension. In comparison with home schooled children, as they are not experiencing this. She spoke with the Kent County Health Department head, Dr. Gora. Dr. Gora mentioned she was excited in hopes that mask wearing “will last forever” because there was only 2 cases of the flu this year in Kent County.
The bottom line is that these parents want to have an open line of communication with their school board, but they want to be respected and listened to. The parents feel their children have suffered enough in the last year with lock downs, quarantine, mask mandates, and contact tracing. Parents are hopeful in working together with the board to come up with a consensus that suits everyone.
Written By: Rachel Marcero,