LANSING, Mich. – Michigan has revealed its updated COVID-19 safety guidelines to protect students from the virus when they return to in-person learning.
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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its recommendations to reflect the current guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on masking and COVID prevention.
“We are committed to ensuring Michigan students and educators are safe in the classroom, including those who may not yet be vaccinated,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “MDHHS is issuing this guidance to help protect Michiganders of all ages. We continue to urge all eligible residents to get the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible as it is our best defense against the virus and the way we are going to end this pandemic.”
MDHHS officials said the best way to keep students safe is to layer multiple COVID prevention strategies.
Here are the key strategies recommended to schools by the CDC:
- Promote vaccination against COVID-19 for eligible staff and students.
- Consistent and correct mask use.
- CDC recommends universal indoor masking for all educators, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status.
- Physical distancing: CDC recommends schools maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms, combined with indoor mask wearing by students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
- When it isn’t possible to maintain three feet of distance, it is especially important to layer multiple other prevention strategies, such as indoor masking, screening testing, cohorting and improved ventilation to help reduce transmission risk.
- Screen testing identifies infected people, including those without symptoms who might be contagious, so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission or outbreaks.
- Improve ventilation by opening multiple doors and windows, using child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows and making changes to the HVAC or air filtration systems.
- Avoid crowded and/or poorly ventilated indoor activities (engage in outdoor activities when possible).
- Open or crack windows in buses and other forms of transportation to improve air circulation, if doing so does not pose a safety risk.
- Handwashing and respiratory etiquette: Promote handwashing and covering coughs and sneezes.
- Staying home and getting tested when sick.
- Encourage students and staff to stay home if they are sick or have COVID symptoms.
- Encourage students and staff, regardless of vaccination status, to get tested for COVID if they have symptoms or are a close contact of someone who has the virus.
- Contact tracing in combination with quarantine: Collaborate with the local health department.
- Cleaning and disinfection: Cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that might be on surfaces. Disinfecting (using disinfectants on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency COVID-19 webpage) removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection.
- The following factors should be used when determining mitigation strategies:
- Level of community transmission of COVID-19.
- COVID-19 vaccination coverage in the community and among students, teachers and staff.
- Use of a frequent SARS-CoV-2 screening testing program for students, teachers and staff who are not fully vaccinated.
- COVID outbreaks or increasing trends in the school or surrounding community.
- Ages of children served in the school and risk associated with school, extracurricular and social activities.