Face mask mandates ending for Michigan schools: Are parents ready?

More counties lift orders requiring face masks

It's a trend we've seen across the country, and It's picking up momentum in Metro Detroit. More counties are planning to lift the orders requiring face masks in schools.

DETROIT – It’s a trend we’ve seen across the country, and It’s picking up momentum in Metro Detroit schools. More counties are planning to lift the orders requiring face masks in schools.

Ingham County is rescinding Its mask requirements on Feb. 19.

Now, Oakland County is preparing to do the same at Its schools and daycares on Feb. 28. Washtenaw is doing the same on that date as well.

Each district says that pandemic conditions have changed, allowing them to take that step. So far, we haven’t heard about any changes in Wayne County.

“We are still in a pandemic; that’s just is what it is,” said Kathleen Lucas.

Lucas has two children in the Hudsonville Public School District outside of Grand Rapids. Her family is vaccinated, and her children wear masks to school in a district that doesn’t require them, and COVID still ran through her family.

“The third day back from Christmas break, my 7-year-old was exposed by a classmate who was not wearing a mask, and COVID ran through our entire family,” Lucas said. “We are hopefully ok, but I have some lasting effects as it’s been about a month now, so we’ll see if those go away.”

Alan Pike, whose 8-year-old daughter goes to the Romeo School District in Macomb County, again, no masks are required, and he’s ok with it.

“When you’re stuck behind the same mask all day long, I worry about the rebreathing of the bacteria and whatever else is in that mask,” said Pike. “I don’t feel it’s healthy for the kids.”

Health departments often comparing information and data points are moving towards removing mask mandates in schools. Today (Feb. 11), Oakland County announced that school mask mandates would be removed on Feb. 28, saying it’s all about the numbers and the data.

In Oakland County, with more than 900-thousand vaccinations or 75% of the eligible population, or to a more nuanced point—of the 200,000 ages five to 19 school-aged children eligible to be vaxxed, 120,000 or 55% are vaccinated. The county health department says the numbers are going in the right direction.

“Looking at the data, we feel we’ve reached a time that we’ve seen a significant drop in cases and hospitalizations,” said Oakland County spokesperson William Mullan.

Ingham County schools are doing the same, with close to 74% of the eligible population vaxxed, including 40% of five to 11-year-olds and about 62% of 12 to 15-year-olds, Health Officer for the county Linda Vail says, unlike the wild variant all the way to lambda in which masks were worn to protect others from you, she says with the now dominant omicron variant, the suitable mask, the KN95 provides protection to the mask-wearer.

“We shifted into wearing higher quality masks,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail. “Those masks by choice of any parent will protect the individual in the school environment from the infection as opposed to just protecting the source from basically exposing others. So, we have a lot more choices available.”

Washtenaw County also announced Friday (Feb. 11) that on Feb. 28, the mask mandate would go away. In Macomb County, there has never been a mask mandate; however, numerous districts in the ISD have required masks.


About the Authors:

Paula Tutman is an Emmy award-winning journalist who came to Local 4 in 1992. She's a Peace Corps alum who spent her early childhood living in Sierra Leone, West Africa and Tanzania and East Africa.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.