by Scott McClallen
The Wayne County Public Health Department issued a new order mandating school districts and daycare providers require students, faculty, staff, and visitors to wear a face mask while in school and during school-sponsored indoor events.
The order takes effect immediately directing public, private, and parochial schools and daycare providers to:
- Require indoor wearing of face masks for all pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students, regardless of their vaccine status; and,
- Require face masks to be worn indoors by all teachers, administrative staff, other employees, parent and guardians, attendees, and volunteers.
The order remains in effect until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention categorize COVID-19 community transmission for Wayne County as “moderate” for at least 14 consecutive days or further notice by Wayne County officials.
Last week, Wayne County Public Health officials issued “strong recommendations” that all school districts implement a COVID-19 safety plan that includes a mask requirement.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said the mandate brings the total number of Michigan school districts with a mask policy to 179, covering more than 674,000 students or 53.8% of students in traditional public schools in the state.
“After 19 months of COVID, the science is clear: vaccines and masks keep kids safe and help them continue learning in person,” Whitmer said in a statement. “On vaccines, the message is simple: every eligible Michigander 12 and older should get their safe, effective, and FDA-approved, vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community. “
However, Whitmer has declined to issue a broad mask mandate in schools, saying districts want local control.
“On masks, both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have strongly recommended that districts require masks for students, teachers, and staff in schools regardless of vaccination status because it will allow everyone to stay safe while continuing to learn and grow in-person. I agree with our top health experts.”
Wayne Regional Educational Service Agency Superintendent Dr. Daveda Colbert welcomed the mask mandate.
“With the latest guidance, it is my hope that together as administrators, teachers, students, parents and community members, we can now shift our focus to engaging each and every learner at the highest level,” Colbert said in a statement. “The last year and a half brought more challenges than anyone could have imagined but I remain proud of the resiliency displayed by our school communities. Knowing we now have the highest mitigation measures in place, we can confidently shift our focus to wellness and academics, allowing every student to take part in a safe and highly engaging learning experience.”
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Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.