Wayne County health officials expected to issue school COVID guidance

County considering sweeping mask mandate at schools this fall

Wayne County officials are expected Friday to issue COVID-19 related guidance for school districts in the county as the highly contagious delta virus variant continues to spread throughout the region.

DETROIT – School districts in Wayne County are waiting Friday to receive COVID-19 related guidance from county officials, particularly in regards to a face mask policy.

UPDATE: Wayne County issues mask mandate for all schools this fall

County health officials are set to update their guidance for schools on Friday as students prepare to return to classrooms this fall amid the ongoing pandemic.

While national health officials and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have recommended universal masking at schools this academic year as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through the region, the state of Michigan does not intend to issue a sweeping mask mandate for schools. Instead, individual school districts have been left to determine whether masks are mandatory or optional for students and staff.

At least 11 school districts in Wayne County have issued a mask mandate for the 2021-2022 school year as of Friday, Aug. 27, including Detroit public schools, Plymouth-Canton public schools and Livonia public schools. The county as a whole has not issued any sweeping mandates as of yet.

Debates over whether masks should be required in schools or not have become heated at school board discussions all across Metro Detroit in recent weeks. A meeting became particularly contentious in Grosse Pointe when the Grosse Pointe School District’s superintendent declared that masks would be optional for their students and staff.

But that decision could very likely be reversed on Friday at the county level, depending on what guidance officials announce.

A spokeswoman for the Wayne County Executive told the Detroit News that they are “in discussions with school districts and communities and heavily considering the implementation of a mask mandate for in-person learning.”

We’ll be sharing more details online and on air as we learn them.

If Wayne County does issue a mask mandate for schools within its jurisdiction, it would become the second county in Metro Detroit to implement such a rule -- Oakland County issued a mandate earlier this week.

The decision in Oakland County prompted a protest among parents who don’t support the countywide mask policy. Oakland County Executive David Coulter says the goal is to keep students safe while in the classroom.

A few other Michigan counties, mostly on the state’s west side, have issued countywide mask requirements for their schools this fall. You can see a map of those counties below.

We’re also tracking which individual Michigan school districts and colleges are requiring face masks to be worn, at least indoors, for the 2021-2022 academic year.

Note: This list is not comprehensive and will be updated as more information is gathered. If your school district or college is requiring face masks and is not listed below, please send us an email with information and we will include it.

Note: As noted in the map above, some county health departments have issued public health orders that supersede any school district decisions. Those are marked in yellow in the table below.

View: Michigan COVID data

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About the Authors:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.