Advance Notice: Briefs

With schools opening soon, DHHS issues updated COVID-19 guidance

By: - August 4, 2021 3:30 pm

A Detroit Public Schools Community District student | Ken Coleman photo

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued on Wednesday updated recommendations for schools designed to help prevent transmission of COVID-19 within school buildings, reduce disruptions to in-person learning and help protect vulnerable individuals and those who are not fully vaccinated.

The guidance has been updated, the department said, to reflect the most current recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on masking and prevention strategies to help operate schools more safely. It includes guidance on assessing risk levels when making decisions about implementing layered prevention strategies against COVID-19.

CDC COVID-19 recommendations for schools

  • Promoting vaccination against COVID-19 for eligible staff and students
  • Universal indoor masking for all educators, staff, students and visitors to schools, regardless of vaccination status
  • All people – regardless of vaccination status – wear masks on public transportation, including school buses
  • Schools maintain at least three feet of physical distance between students within classrooms
  • Screening testing identifies infected people, including those without symptoms who may be contagious
  • Improving ventilation by opening multiple doors and windows, using child-safe fans to increase the effectiveness of open windows and making changes to the HVAC or air filtration systems
  • Avoiding crowded and/or poorly ventilated indoor activities (e.g., engaging in outdoor activities when possible)
  • Promoting handwashing
  • Staying home when sick and getting tested for COVID-19
  • Encouraging contact tracing
  • Cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove potential virus that may be on surfaces

“We are committed to ensuring Michigan students and educators are safe in the classroom, including those who may not yet be vaccinated,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, DHHS chief medical executive and chief deputy for health.

State Superintendent Michael Rice added that students and staff need to be in schools “as much as possible this year.”

“Following the informed guidance from national and state health experts will help keep our students and staff healthy and help maximize student learning,” said Rice.

The most effective way to prevent transmission within school buildings, reduce disruptions to in-person learning and help protect people who are not fully vaccinated is to layer multiple prevention strategies recommended by CDC, DHHS advised. All prevention strategies provide some level of protection, and layered strategies implemented at the same time provide the greatest level of protection.

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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.

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