Ingham County issues mask mandate for all schools

County now has mask requirement in place for child care centers, preschools and all pre-K through 12 schools

FILE - In this Monday, Aug. 23, 2021, file photo, student Winston Wallace, 9, raises his hand in class at iPrep Academy on the first day of school in Miami. A judge has ruled that Florida school districts may impose mask mandates. Leon County Circuit Judge John C. Cooper on Friday agreed with a group of parents who claimed in a lawsuit that Gov. Ron DeSantis' ban on the mandates is unconstitutional and cannot be enforced. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky, File) (Lynne Sladky, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Ingham County Health Department issued two public health orders Thursday including one that mandates the use of face masks inside school buildings and during other educational settings.

The second public health order puts in place isolation and quarantine measures following a COVID-19 exposure. Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail said the public health orders are “to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and other educational settings and to foster a healthy environment for in-person learning.”

Here are the Ingham County public health orders:

  • Emergency Order Ingham 2021-2: All Persons in Educational Settings, regardless of vaccination status, are required to consistently and properly wear a facial covering while inside any enclosed building or structure of an Educational Institution or vehicle of an Educational Institution.
  • Emergency Order Ingham 2021-3: The Education Institutions and all Persons in Educational Settings must adhere to specific isolation and quarantine measures, following identification of close contacts, household exposures, or confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The Ingham County Health Department said the county had a 515% increase in new-cases among 0-17-year-olds when comparing the two-week period of July 1-14 and the two-week period of Aug. 12-25.

Meanwhile, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported a five-fold increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among children in the last month, rising from approximately 38,000 cases at the end of July to 204,000 cases as of Aug. 26, 2021.

With vaccination rates of 61% among eligible individuals aged 12 and older in Ingham County, and many school-aged children (younger than 12) too young to receive the vaccine, Ingham County health officials said school districts will now be mandated to follow prevention measures that are demonstrated to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

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

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.

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, rapidly continues to infect residents.

More: Tracking Michigan school districts, colleges requiring masks for 2021-2022 school year

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