Wayne County rescinds school mask mandate after state updates COVID guidance

Slow in coronavirus surge leads to updated protocols


DETROIT – Wayne County health officials are no longer requiring students to wear face masks while at school.

Dr. Avani Sheth, the county’s chief health officer, announced Thursday that the health department is rescinding an emergency order that required mask wearing in schools to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Masks have been required inside Wayne County schools since the order was issued in August last year.

“Children should continue to be supported to wear a mask, including but not limited to for reasons such as individual and/or household risk factors and vaccination status,” Sheth wrote Thursday.

Face masks are still recommended to be worn during quarantine or isolation periods, officials said. The rescission is effective as of 8 a.m. on Feb. 17.

Note: Decisions made by the Wayne County Local Health Department do not apply to the city of Detroit, which has its own health department.

Though masks remain an important tool to help slow virus spread, schools are reconsidering their protocols as COVID cases decline across the state.

On Wednesday, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services updated their face mask guidance, recommending that individuals who are high risk or in high risk environments should continue wearing masks, while all others are encouraged to do so when they feel it is necessary. Schools and local health departments were encouraged to establish protocols that suited their specific needs.

More: Michigan drops mask recommendations for K-12 schools, most indoor settings as COVID cases drop

The changes come as a surge of coronavirus infections and hospitalizations is finally winding down in Metro Detroit and throughout the state and nation. On Wednesday, Michigan reported an average of 2,135 new COVID cases over a two-day period -- far lower than averages of 17,000-20,000 daily new cases that were reported in January.

The state’s average positive test rate has also decreased significantly, and is now at 10.73% after spiking to near 35% in January.

See Dr. Sheth’s statement from Thursday below.

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About the Author:

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