Advance Notice: Briefs

Ingham joins 11 Mich. counties in school mask mandate amid surging Delta variant

By: - September 2, 2021 1:07 pm

Masks sewn by Jan Ruvido Stebbins | Laina G. Stebbins

Updated, 2:40 p.m., 9/2/21,with Berrien County’s mandate

Ingham County on Thursday joined 10 other counties mandating students and staff to wear masks in schools and other educational settings, regardless of vaccination status. The county also issued a second mandate setting in place guidelines for quarantine and isolation procedures within schools. 

Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail announced the order amidst a rise in COVID-19 cases in young children who are currently unable to get vaccinated against the illness. According to Ingham County, there was a 515% increase in cases within zero to 17 year olds when comparing case counts from July 1 to 14 and August 12 to 25. 

The first order requires masks to be worn in all educational settings, whether vaccinated or not, while the second order requires those who test positive to self-isolate for 10 days after a positive test result. The order also requires that those who test positive must report who they have had close contact with in the first 48 hours of when they first started showing symptoms. 

In a press release announcing the mandate, Vail said that with the rising numbers, it is important to mandate masks in places that did not previously have such orders, including in daycare centers, childcare centers, preschools, youth programs and private schools. 

“It is imperative that we use all of our tools and prevention strategies to control COVID-19 in educational settings to maintain in-person learning in the 2021-2022 school year and to do so safely,” said Vail. 

The orders will take effect on Tuesday, after the Labor Day holiday. 

So far, 12 counties total have announced a mask mandate for schools: Allegan, Berrien, Ottawa, Kent, Kalamazoo, Ingham, Genesee, Oakland, Wayne and Washtenaw.

The orders also come after the Central for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines in early August recommending that students wear masks both indoors and outdoors regardless of vaccination status in order to slow the spread of the disease.

After the CDC released its recommendations, the Michigan Board of Education voted to support individual school districts deciding whether to mandate masks in schools.

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Julia Forrest
Julia Forrest

Julia Forrest is a contributor to the Michigan Advance. She has been covering Michigan and national politics for two years at the Michigan Daily and OpenSecrets. She studies public policy at the University of Michigan.