Wayne County Health Department issues COVID public health advisory, recommends masks for schools

Advisory makes strong recommendations on COVID-19 health protections

The advisory is not a mandate, but makes strong recommendations on COVID-19 health protections school districts can follow. (POLLY THOMAS, 2020 Polly Thomas)

Wayne County, Mich. – On Tuesday, the Wayne County Health Department issued a new Public Health Advisory to all K-12 schools, public and private.

According to the county, the move was made to help protect students and staff from the spread of COVID-19. The advisory is not a mandate. However, it does make strong recommendations on COVID-19 health protections school districts can follow.

“With children 12 and younger not yet able to get vaccinated and the increased spread of the highly contagious delta variant, it is critical that everyone does their part to ensure students can safely return to in-person classrooms this fall,” said Melita Jordan, director of the Wayne County Department of Health, Human and Veterans Services. “These guidelines provide common-sense advice for school districts to follow that will help protect both students and staff.”

The advisory is consistent with recent guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Read: MDHHS ‘strongly recommends’ Michigan schools require universal masking when students return

Recommendations include the following:

Consistent and Proper Mask Use This strategy includes universal face mask wearing for students, staff, and visitors, regardless of vaccination status.

Social Distancing – This strategy recommends physical distancing of at least three (3) feet between individuals.

Ventilation – A proper ventilation strategy helps reduce virus particles in the air and can reduce transmission risk.

Promote COVID-19 Vaccination – National data shows that more than 90 percent of the new COVID-19 cases are among unvaccinated or not yet fully vaccinated persons. All staff and students 12 years and older should get vaccinated to protect themselves and others from illness.

Symptom monitoring, getting tested and staying home when sick – School mitigation plans should require staff and students (regardless of vaccination status) to monitor for COVID-19 symptoms including fever (temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit or above), new cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or onset of chills and muscle aches. When an individual is experiencing symptoms, they should get tested for COVID-19, and if they test positive do not report to school and follow self-quarantine guidelines.

“While today’s advisory is a strong recommendation, the Wayne County Public Health Department continues to closely monitor COVID-19 data points, and it will issue further guidance for school settings, if warranted,” said the county in a press release on the advisory.

Wayne County residents can call 866-610-3885 to schedule a vaccine appointment. Walk-in vaccinations are also available. More information about vaccine opportunities can be found by clicking here.

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Michigan has risen to 922,687 as of Monday, including 20,030 deaths, state officials report.

Monday’s update includes a total of 3,554 new cases and 19 additional deaths over a three-day period -- an average of 1,184.67 cases per day. Of the 19 new deaths reported, eight were identified during a review of records.

READ MORE: Michigan COVID: Here’s what to know Aug. 17, 2021