Important Information Re: COVID-19

Thank you

First and foremost, we would like to thank our families for your understanding and support as we once again had to navigate through changes to the COVID-19 School Toolkit, confusing headlines and other frustrating events that could get in the way of teaching and learning. Despite all of this, our teachers are teaching and our students are learning!

Thank you to all of our FAPS community.


Please take time to review the information below.



Dr. Adam Hartley

Superintendent

Fenton Area Public Schools


Mr. Keith Reynolds

Board President

FAPS Board of Education

Genesee County Health Order Remains

Governor Whitmer signed the state budget on Wednesday. The language within the budget stating that local health departments cannot issue health orders regarding mask mandates was deemed unenforceable and therefore does not change the current Emergency Health Order issued on September 13, 2021.


The Genesee County Health Department (GCHD) communicated with local school districts that the Emergency Health Order is still in effect and will be enforced.


You may read the full order here: https://www.gchd.us/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/School-Masking-Order-Update-1.2-Dated-September-10-2021.pdf


Fenton Area Public Schools continues to ask for community cooperation and doing its part to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 within our schools, including making sure our students are wearing a face mask, per the GCHD Emergency Health Order.


The District’s goal is to enable students to remain in school for in-person learning.

The GCHD Face Mask Order

The GCHD face mask order requires the District to “ensure that all persons are wearing a face mask before entering the school . . . Persons who will not wear a face mask and do not have a medical waiver, must be excluded until a face mask is worn consistent with these orders.” GCHD, Update to the Orders Regarding Prevention of COVID-19 Transmission in Educational Settings within Genesee County, Michigan, 9/10/2021, p 3.

Additionally, the GCHD face mask order indicates that its face-mask requirement extends to Board of Education meetings and extracurricular activities.

Pursuant to the Public Health Code, the GCHD has the authority to issue emergency orders, including the present face mask order, during the COVID-19 pandemic. MCL 333.2452(1). Further, the Public Health Code vests the GCHD with the ability to enforce its face mask order in a variety of ways. MCL 333.1101 et seq. The District is required to adhere to the GCHD face mask order while it remains in effect.

The GCHD Face Mask Order’s Requirements and Enforcement Mechanisms

Requirements

  • The GCHD mandates “all Educational Institutions and all Persons in Educational Settings” to adhere to its face-mask requirements

  • Issue a citation providing for a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 for each violation or day that the violation continues


Enforcement Mechanisms in Response to Violations of GCHD Face Mask Order

  • File a report with the police department regarding the violation, which could result in the individual being prosecuted for a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months or a fine of not more than $200.00, or both

  • Bring an injunctive action to restrain, prevent, or correct a violation of the GCHD face mask order


Requirements

  • The District “shall ensure” that people in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 wear face masks inside District buildings or structures

  • The District “shall ensure” that all persons providing service to any persons in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 wear face masks inside District buildings or structure

  • The District “shall ensure that all persons are wearing a face mask before entering the school” (if a person is not wearing a face mask, the District must provide one)


Enforcement Mechanisms in Response to Violations of GCHD Face Mask Order

  • Exclude the person from the District’s buildings or structures if the person (1) is not wearing a face mask before entering the building, even after one is provided to them, and (2) does not have a medical waiver

  • File a complaint with the GCHD regarding the violation, which could result in the individual receiving a citation with a civil penalty from the GCHD

  • File a report with the police department regarding the violation, which could result in the individual being prosecuted for a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than 6 months or a fine of not more than $200.00, or both

Summary

If the District fails to follow the GCHD face mask order by permitting unmasked individuals, including students, to enter District buildings, the District and the individual(s) not wearing a face mask would be subject to criminal and civil penalties. See MCL 333.2443 (criminal penalties); MCL 333.2461 (civil penalties).

The GCHD may also bring injunctive action against the District to prevent the District from violating the GCHD face mask order. See MCL 333.2465(1).


Further, should injury occur as a result of the District’s failure to follow the order, the District’s officers, employees, volunteers, and board members may be found grossly negligent and, thus, be subject to civil liability. See MCL 691.1407(2); see also Tarlea v Crabtree, 263 Mich App 80, 90 (2004) (providing that grossly negligent conduct is an “almost…willful disregard of precautions or measures to attend to safety and a singular disregard for substantial risks”). Additionally, this could result in potential loss of the District’s insurance coverage.


Moreover, the GCHD has expressly cautioned Genesee County superintendents that “non-compliance with the Emergency Order is a violation of the law, and the Health Department can issue an injunction or a citation or a fine upon the school or school district in violation.” GCHD, Memorandum to Genesee County School Superintendents: Further Guidance on Public Health Order Issued 9.2.2021, 9/2/2021, p 2.


Should an individual attempt to enter District buildings or structures without either a face mask, even after one is provided, or a medical waiver, the District is required to exclude the individual from the District’s buildings. Individuals who violate the GCHD face mask order may be referred to local law enforcement and/or the GCHD.

If an individual trespasses on District property following exclusion for failure to wear a face mask without a medical exemption, the District may be required to contact local law enforcement to have the individual removed from District property.


The GCHD face mask order “remains in effect until community transmission for Genesee County is categorized as ‘Moderate’ by the CDC for at least fourteen consecutive days, or until further notice from the Genesee County Medical Health Officer.” Order, p 5. COVID-19 community transmission in Genesee County is currently categorized as “High” by the CDC. See CDC, COVID Data Tracker: COVID-19 Integrated County View.


The District appreciates your cooperation as it endeavors to comply with mandates from the GCHD and ensure the health and safety of the students and staff.

Board Meetings

The FAPS School Board meets regularly on the first Monday of the month. The school board is an essential part in running the school district, especially when it comes to policy, approving the purchase of essential learning materials, and hiring certified personnel.


School Boards must hold meetings in public under the Open Meetings Act (OMA).



The OMA permits the District’s Board to exclude persons from its Board meetings “for a breach of the peace actually committed at the meeting.” MCL 15.263(6). Additionally, the Revised School Code provides that disorderly conduct at Board meetings could result in removal from the Board meeting and potential criminal prosecution:


(1) If a person conducts himself or herself in a disorderly manner at a board of education meeting or a school district meeting and, after notice from the officer presiding, persists therein, the officer presiding may order the disorderly person to withdraw from the meeting, and on the person’s refusal may order a law enforcement officer or other person to take the disorderly person into custody until the meeting is adjourned.


(2) A person who refuses to withdraw from the meeting on being so ordered, or a person who wilfully disturbs a school district meeting by rude and indecent behavior, by profane or indecent discourse, or in other ways makes a disturbance, is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than $2.00 nor more than $50.00, or by imprisonment for not more than 30 days, or both. [MCL 380.1808 (emphasis added).]


Local ordinances also include the right for Boards to conduct its business in a public meeting in a peaceful environment free of disturbances (20-58).


Unfortunately, at the September 13, 2021 Board meeting, there were FAPS parents behaving in a disruptive manner that ultimately impeded the school Board from conducting its meeting.

Please know that future breaches of the peace and disorderly conduct at Board meetings — including disorderly conduct related to the refusal to wear a face mask pursuant to the GCHD face mask order — will result in your exclusion from the meeting and potential referral to local law enforcement, as permitted above.


Our hope is that while there are a variety of opinions, perspectives and concerns related to COVID-19 and the current Emergency Health Order, our citizens understand that the school Board must conduct its business in a peaceful and safe environment, absent of disruption.

Procedures for Peaceful Board Meeting

The following steps will take place to ensure the FAPS Board of Education may conduct its business in a peaceful environment, absent disruption.


  • The meeting will take place Monday, October 4, 2021 in the Fenton High School auditorium at 6 p.m.
  • Per the GCHD Emergency Health Order, no one is permitted to enter the building without a facial covering.
  • Both Fenton PD and FAPS administration will be at the entrance with masks to hand out as needed.
  • Once in the building, and when the meeting begins, if a participant refuses to wear a facial covering and/or is disrupting the meeting, they will be asked to leave.
  • If the participant refuses to leave, the FAPS Board of Education will ask the Fenton PD to escort the participant out of the building.
  • FAPS Board of Education meetings are recorded and are considered public record. Any persons not in compliance will be subject to any or all of the consequences laid out in the information above.


*Again, it is essential for the Board to conduct its business in a peaceful and safe environment, absent of disruption.


Thank you in advance for your cooperation.