LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued its strongest recommendation yet for the 2021-22 school year as it called for universal masking.
“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,” reads a MDHHS release.
The advice comes amid a new surge of the delta variant, which now accounts for 99% of cases in Michigan.
The Michigan chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics also recommend everyone over the age of two to mask up.
“Kids that young are capable of doing it, just like you have to learn to wear clothes when you’re a toddler,” said Dr. Sharon Swindell. “Kids can really adapt to mask wearing.”
But school districts have put together a patchwork of mask mandates without a state mandate in place. Only 10 of 56 school districts have mask mandates.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her hands were tied and the decision has to be done by local health departments and districts.
“We’re optimistic that putting forth our recommendations as a health department, looking at what’s gong on and what we recommend going forward that that can be taken as an order,” said Susan Ringler-Cerniglia, with the Washtenaw County Health Department.
As of Friday afternoon, there hasn’t been a single health department in Metro Detroit that has mandated masks.
“We do have to really stand up and look at what the situation is and make those tough decisions,” said Ringler-Cerniglia. “Unfortunately, a lot of the misinformation or pushback that’s happening, we can’t afford to keep entertaining.”