Michigan health officials are strongly recommending schools require universal masking when students return for in-person learning.
On Friday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated its guidance for preventing the spread of COVID-19 within school buildings.
“Because many students have yet to be vaccinated and students under age 12 are not yet eligible, layered prevention measures, including universal masking, must be put in place for consistent in-person learning to keep kids, staff and families safe,” an MDHHS release says.
This update brings MDHHS guidance in line with that of the Centers For Disease Control and 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 recommends that all schools adopt policies to:
- Promote vaccination for eligible students, staff and families.
- Require universal masking for students, staff and visitors regardless of community transmission rate or vaccination status.
- Implement layered prevention measures.
Here are more of the strategies recommended by the CDC to keep schools safe:
- Promoting vaccination against COVID-19 for eligible staff and students. Vaccination has proven incredibly effective as the leading public health prevention strategy. Promoting vaccination can help schools more safely maintain in-person learning as well as extracurricular activities and sports.
- Requiring consistent and correct mask use for all.
- 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.
- Screening testing identifies infected people, including those without symptoms who may be contagious, so that measures can be taken to prevent further transmission or outbreaks.
- Hand washing and Respiratory Etiquette: Promoting hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes.
- Staying home when sick and getting tested.
- Contact tracing, in combination with quarantine, and collaborating with the local health department.
- Cleaning and disinfection: cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that may be on surfaces. Disinfecting (using disinfectants on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency COVID-19 list) removes any remaining germs on surfaces, which further reduces any risk of spreading infection. CDC has information on routine cleaning to help maintain healthy facilities.