Washtenaw County issues mask and quarantine mandates for K-12 schools

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Washtenaw joins Oakland and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan with a mask mandate for schools. Macomb County officials said they do not plan to issue a mask mandate. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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  • Washtenaw joins Oakland and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan with a mask mandate for schools. Macomb County officials said they do not plan to issue a mask mandate.

The Washtenaw County Health Department issued a health order Thursday requiring students and staff to wear masks in schools.

The mandate applies to public, private, vocational and charters K-12 schools, as well school-sponsored sports and extracurricular activities.



The order will remain in effect until transmission in the county is “moderate” or lower for at least 14 consecutive days.

The county also issued a health order requiring quarantine for students and staff who have COVID-19 symptoms or tested positive for the coronavirus.



Under the order, people infected with COVID-19 must help identify anyone with whom they have had close contact starting two days before symptoms started. With some exceptions, close contacts must quarantine for at least 10 days after the last exposure to someone infected with COVID-19.

“We are grateful to our local schools and districts that have already done the work to require masks and that continue to work closely with us on isolation and quarantine measures,” Jimena Loveluck, health officer with Washtenaw County Health Department, said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we are trending in the wrong direction, and it’s imperative that we use all of our tools to prevent and control COVID in educational settings and provide in-person learning as safely as possible.”

Nearly 60% of Washtenaw County residents ages 12 to 15 are fully vaccinated, and 40.3% of residents ages 16 to 19 are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

Washtenaw joins Oakland and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan with a mask mandate for schools. Macomb County officials said they do not plan to issue a mask mandate.

Also on Thursday, Ingham County issued a mask mandate for schools.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration has encouraged school districts to require masks but stopped short of issuing a mandate.

Leading health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control, recommend universal masking indoors as COVID-19 transmission remains a serious threat.

Nevertheless, mask mandates have prompted protests and complaints from angry parents. At a Birmingham Board of Education meeting last week, unruly anti-maskers booed and hurled insults at border members after they issued a mandate for face coverings for students and teachers. One man even flashed a Nazi salute and chanted “Heil Hitler.”

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