Washtenaw County lifting school COVID orders at end of February

COVID orders for K-12 schools in Washtenaw County will be lifted Feb. 28

Lockers in the hallway of a school. (WDIV)

YPSILANTI, Mich.Washtenaw County health officials are lifting their COVID orders for all K-12 schools at the end of February.

Effective Feb. 28, all Washtenaw County Health Department COVID orders for K-12 education settings will be lifted, officials announced. That includes orders requiring masks, isolation and quarantine.

While universal masking remains “strongly recommended” for K-12 schools, it will no longer be required by the health department at the end of the month.

“Local health orders have been necessary during the pandemic, and these orders have helped protect in-person learning, critical health care capacity, and overall health,” said Jimena Loveluck, MSW, health officer with the Washtenaw County Health Department.

Students who test positive for COVID or are exposed as close contacts will still be excluded from school under the Michigan Public Health Code, according to authorities.

The school health orders were issued in September 2021 before the spread of the omicron variant. Officials determined that conditions have changed enough to rescind them, as vaccination rates among school-aged children are the highest in the state.

“We are in a different place now,” Loveluck said. “We can offer more flexibility while we continue to provide appropriate guidance and work with our local schools to protect health, prevent spread and maintain in-person learning as safely as possible.”

COVID cases in Washtenaw County have declined sharply since peaking in early January, officials said. Hospitalizations and deaths are also dropping.

While transmission in the county is still considered “high,” health systems are reporting improved capacity situations.

“Importantly, our local orders remain in full force until the end of the month,” said Ruth Kraut, MPH, deputy health officer with the Washtenaw County Health Department. “Before the planned changes take place, we will provide updated school guidance. Masks will be required when students or staff have had close contact with someone who has COVID or are returning from COVID isolation. Under federal orders, masks continue to be required on public transportation and school buses.”

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.