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Video shows Michigan parents encouraging kids to violate school mask mandate after the county updated its COVID-19 policy

Business Insider logo Business Insider 9/10/2021 (Erin Snodgrass)
a group of people posing for the camera: Students at a Florida high school, walk to the campus on their first day of school, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021 AP Photo/Marta Lavandier © AP Photo/Marta Lavandier Students at a Florida high school, walk to the campus on their first day of school, Monday, Aug. 23, 2021 AP Photo/Marta Lavandier
  • Video shows a group of parents urging unmasked students to enter their school and defy a county mask mandate.
  • The incident occurred in Manchester, Michigan, on Tuesday.
  • The district initially made masks optional, but a county public health order overrode the rule on Tuesday.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A group of Michigan parents urged several unmasked high school students to defy the district's mask mandate and bypass school officials to enter campus maskless, a viral video shows.

Video of the incident, which occurred at Manchester Junior & Senior High School in Washtenaw County, Michigan, on Tuesday, shows a sheriff's deputy telling parents that he is unable to enforce the order in place requiring people entering the school to wear masks.

"I'm not going to force anybody. I'm not putting masks on anybody. That's not my job," the deputy can be heard saying. "This is a county health department order and a policy of this school."

After being told that the sheriff's deputy overseeing the situation would not in fact enforce entering students to wear masks, the crowd of parents began to urge their kids to enter the building without face coverings.

"They can go in, guys," one man can be heard saying. "Go on in, guys. They can't enforce it."

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Two masked school employees can be seen standing at the entrance to the building, blocking the crowd of unmasked students from entering.

"You guys, they can't touch you. Just go ahead and go in," the man says.

Eventually, the group of students cross the threshold and enter the building to resounding cheers from the watching parents.

"Be kind and respectful," the same man says as the students enter.

Manchester Community Schools initially had a mask-optional policy in its schools, but an emergency county health order requiring the face coverings in schools went into effect on Tuesday, overriding the district's policy, local station WDIV reported.

The Manchester Community Schools district and the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The Detroit Free Press reported that upon entering the building, the group of unmasked students was isolated and not allowed to mingle with other students inside the school.

"It was a fairly small group of people. What they did was go ahead and allow those unmasked individuals into the school buildings, but then they were in a separate area, I believe the library or some other separate space," Susan Ringler Cerniglia, a spokesperson for the county health department told the outlet. "So those students basically spent the day in that area and didn't attend classes or mix with other students."

Manchester Community Schools Superintendent Brad Bezeau told WDIV that the district "sent out communications" on Tuesday evening regarding the incident, and students came to school the next day "peacefully" and with masks on.

The county sheriff's office told the station that its deputy was not permitted to enforce the mask policy because the department's policy is to not cite people for defying the public health order.

"Law enforcement is there to keep the peace, help keep people calm, to de-escalate situations, to explain, and to advise. We are not there to cite people for PH (public health) violation. It can become a legal/enforceable action if things get out of hand and some other enforceable action is needed like an assault or destruction of property," a representative from the sheriff's office told WDIV.

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