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Washtenaw County issues mask mandate for K-12 schools

Students, staff must wear masks indoors while COVID spread rampant in county

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, file photo, students sit in an Algebra class at Barbara Coleman Senior High School on the first day of school, in Miami Lakes, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File)
FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, file photo, students sit in an Algebra class at Barbara Coleman Senior High School on the first day of school, in Miami Lakes, Fla. (AP Photo/Marta Lavandier, File) (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Washtenaw County health officials have issued an emergency order that will require face masks to be worn at all K-12 schools this fall.

The Washtenaw County Health Department on Thursday issued a public health emergency order in response to increased coronavirus spread within the county. Officials say COVID-19 transmission is now considered at a “high” level.

Under the new order, beginning Sept. 7, students and staff at all K-12 public, private, vocational and charter schools within the county will be required to wear a face mask while indoors to help prevent virus spread. Officials say the order will remain active until COVID transmission within the county decreases to a “moderate” level or lower.

The mask mandate is also in effect for any affiliated extracurricular activities or athletics within the county, officials said.

As outlined by the county health department, the mask mandate does not apply to the following people:

  • Those actively eating or drinking, swimming, or diving or who are alone in a room.
  • Anyone under the age of four years; however, supervised masking is recommended for children who are at least two years of age.
  • Anyone with developmental conditions attending school when the use of a face mask would inhibit the person’s access to education.
  • Vaccinated staff working with children who are hard of hearing or students with developmental conditions who benefit from facial cues.
  • Anyone who has a medical reason confirmed in writing from a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine currently licensed to practice medicine in the State of Michigan.

The mask order issued by the county supersedes any mask policies, or lack thereof, instituted by individual school districts and institutions within Washtenaw County.

Click here to read the entire emergency order.

The CDC is recommending that all students and school staff wear face masks, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has done the same. However, no sweeping mask mandates have been made at the federal or state level for K-12 students or college students.

The Michigan State Board of Education voted to allow individual school districts to respond to the pandemic as they deem necessary, which includes the authority to mandate masks, or not to, in their district.

In Washtenaw County, a number of school districts had already issued a universal mask mandate for the upcoming school year, including Ann Arbor Public Schools and Dexter Community Schools.

Multiple Michigan counties have issued countywide mask mandates for K-12 schools for the 2021-22 school year in an effort to prevent virus spread as the delta COVID variant, a highly contagious strain, continues to rapidly infect residents.

Below, we’re tracking which Michigan school districts and colleges are requiring face masks to be worn, at least indoors, for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Note: This list is not comprehensive and will be updated as more information is gathered. If your school district or college is requiring face masks and is not listed below, please send us an email with information and we will include it.

Note: Some county health departments have issued public health orders that supersede any school district decisions. Those are marked in yellow in the table below.

See more: Michigan COVID-19 data

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