OAKLAND/MACOMB COUNTIES — On Tuesday, the Oakland County Health Division issued a universal mask mandate for all students in PreK-12 schools.
The emergency health order requires masks in daycares, elementary, middle, high and vocational schools regardless of vaccination status to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The new order is meant to align with guidance from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure children, teachers and staff are able to begin the school year safely.
Right now, more than 135 school districts are covered under a mask policy this school year, which accounts for 46 percent of the student body or roughly 625,000 students across the state. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer
The announcement comes shortly after Oakland County returned to an indoor mask requirement for all employees last week.
“Our top priority is keeping students in school for in-person learning,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said. “Masking is one of the best defenses against increased transmission of COVID and higher hospitalization rates among kids. This order allows teachers to get back to educating our students and focusing on their success.”
While nearly 200 parents in Oakland County protested the decision, more than three dozen parents in neighboring Macomb County protested against its decision not to initiate a mask mandate.
Macomb County Executive Mark Hackel said that the county will not follow suit and that the decision is left up to each Independent School District (ISD).
“Here in Macomb County, we have been working almost daily with our schools, the ISD’s, superintendents trying to get our understanding of where the boards are at,” he said.
Governor Whitmer issued a statement on the topic as well.
“As school districts prepare for the upcoming school year, we are providing strong guidance to superintendents, school boards and local health departments to help increase the number of school districts with smart mask policies because data shows that local mask policies can significantly reduce the spread of COVID-19 so that students can safely continue in-person learning,” the statement read. “Right now, more than 135 school districts are covered under a mask policy this school year, which accounts for 46 percent of the student body or roughly 625,000 students across the state.”
Whitmer and the state have also said many times that they are letting school districts make the decisions themselves and not implementing a mask mandate.
The mandate in Oakland County will be in place until the county is at a moderate level of transmission for COVID-19.
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