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The Eastern Echo Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Print Archive
The Eastern Echo

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Mask mandate now in effect for Washtenaw County schools

Washtenaw County health officials issue emergency mask mandate, as well as isolation and quarantine requirements for all K-12 schools.

The Washtenaw County Health Department has issued an emergency order that will mandate masks be worn in all K-12 schools.

The Washtenaw County Health Department issued the mask mandate order Sept. 2 in response to the increased COVID-19 spread within the county, according to a press release. Washtenaw County is currently at a high transmission level, and these orders will remain in place until further notice from the health officer.

Public Information Officer of the Washtenaw County Health Department Susan Ringler-Cerniglia explained why going back to last year's prevention protocols is in the best interest of all schools. 

“Over the past year in that tight classroom setting, when masks, distance, hand-washing, all of these infection control prevention strategies, when those were being used, we saw that transmission was very low,” Ringler-Cerniglia said. “Now, we have a variant   circulating that is more contagious, so prevention strategies are very effective, and the priority and the goal with having these orders are so we can preserve that in person education and do that as safely as possible.”

Washtenaw also issued a second order regarding isolation and quarantine requirements for illness or exposure to COVID-19, officials said.

“When someone is exposed to COVID in the school setting or elsewhere, there is an isolation and quarantine guidance,“ Ringler-Cerniglia said. "These prevention measures are very effective, especially when layered up and used together.”

Both orders went into effect on Sept. 7.

The mask order does not apply to the following individuals:

  • Those actively eating or drinking, swimming, or diving, or who are alone in a room. 

  • Anyone under the age of 4 years; however, supervised masking is recommended for children who are at least 2 years of age. 

  • Anyone with developmental conditions attending school when using a face mask would inhibit the person’s access to education.

  • Vaccinated staff working with hard-of-hearing children or students with developmental conditions who benefit from facial cues. 

  • Anyone who has a medical reason confirmed in writing from a medical doctor or doctor of osteopathic medicine who is currently licensed to practice medicine in Michigan. 

The seven-day cumulative case rate of COVID-19 infections is 134 per 100,000 Washtenaw County residents for the days between Sept. 3 and Sept. 9, a 34% increase from a week prior.

More information about the recent mandates can be found at www.washtenaw.org or by calling 734-544-6700.