On this week's episode, Washtenaw County to lift K-12 school mask mandates on Feb. 28 , Where to find warming shelters in Washtenaw County, and Three-time Olympic track star Tiffany Porter from Ypsilanti announces her retirement. I am your host Jacob Walter Kendrick and this is the Eastern Echo Podcast.
Starting off, Washtenaw County to lift K-12 school mask mandates on Feb. 28.
The Washtenaw County Health Department announced that COVID-19 health policies at K-12 schools will be lifted on Monday, Feb. 28.
The WCHD said this decision was made due to local cases declining sharply since early January and local health systems having improved capacity to deal with hospitalizations, although transmission rates still remain high.
The county’s school health orders were issued in September 2021, which required masks to be worn in all pre-K through 12 schools and directed all who were exposed to or infected with COVID-19 to quarantine or isolate. The health department continues to recommend universal masking in schools.
Masks will be required if students or staff have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19 or if they are returning from isolation. Masks are also required on public transportation and school buses due to federal orders.
Over 72% of Washtenaw County residents ages 5 and older are fully vaccinated, and 57% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 are fully vaccinated, according to WCHD.
Jimena Loveluck, health officer with WCHD said in a written statement: “Local health orders have been necessary during the pandemic, and these orders have helped protect in-person learning, critical health care capacity, and overall health. We are in a different place now. We can offer more flexibility while we continue to provide appropriate guidance and work with our local schools to protect health, prevent spread, and maintain in-person learning as safely as possible.”
This decision from the WCHD comes after several other Michigan counties have announced the end of similar restrictions in K-12 schools, including Oakland and Ingham counties.
The WCHD recommends the following steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the highly transmissible Omicron variant:
Wear a well-fitting face mask in indoor public spaces. (A multilayer, surgical, KN95, or N95 mask is recommended rather than a cloth mask. Although, A cloth mask is better than no mask.)
Get vaccinated or boosted when eligible
Seek testing if feeling ill, or if you have been exposed (if you have been exposed but don’t have symptoms, wait 5 days before testing).
Stay away from others if you are feeling ill, waiting for test results, or have tested positive
Avoid crowded areas or events.
If seeing others, increase ventilation (meet outside, open windows, increase air flow), limit the number of people, encourage everyone to be up to date on vaccinations, keep at least 6 feet apart, and wear a well-fitting mask (especially if indoors).
Clean hands frequently.
Next, where to find warming shelters in Washtenaw County.
The Shelter Association of Washtenaw County (SAWC) provides emergency shelter for the homeless during the Winter months.
There are daytime and overnight warming centers that have been placed around Washtenaw County. There is no pre-registration needed for the daytime warming centers.
The daytime warming centers are located in two areas. First, the Ypsilanti Freighthouse which is open to the public Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m until March 31, 2022. The second one is located at First Baptist Church on Washington Street in Ypsilanti, and it is available until the end of February.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the space is limited at the overnight center, so those that need shelter must call Housing Access of Washtenaw County, (HAWC) and get a referral to the Robert J. Delonis Center in Ann Arbor. The shelter will be provided everyday after 8:30 p.m and is open until March 31, 2022.
The Delonis Center also provides an option to every individual that needs assistance transportation to the warming center after 5 p.m. each day, including weekends.
People are provided with a safe place to sleep each night, and can access a variety of services including meals, medical care, and case management. There will also be assistance finding permanent housing.
Additionally, there are Weather Havens for extreme weather emergencies during the day at the Ann Arbor District Library and Ypsilanti District Library during their regular business hours.
The Washtenaw County Office of Community and Economic Development said that they have “enhanced health and safety practices” and may open additional locations to “ensure adequate social distancing for guests.”
For additional information, call the Delonis Center at 734-662-2829 or visit washtenaw.org.
Lastly, Three-time Olympic track star Tiffany Porter from Ypsilanti announces her retirement.
Tiffany Porter, a three-time Olympian and Ypsilanti native, announced her retirement from track and field on Feb. 5 via Twitter.
In her Twitter statement, Porter not only announced her retirement from the sport, but the launch of her new blog discussing her life and advice regarding track and field as well. Her first post on her new blog is titled, “My Love Letter to Track & Field,“ and entails her personal track and field journey.
Growing up in the Ypsilanti area, Porter knew from a young age that she had a passion for running and competing. She looked forward to the games during a field day in her elementary years.
Porter said in her blog post: “I would race (and beat) all the other boys and girls my age, and then be rewarded with ice cream after. That’s when I learned that I had a deep love for competing and the adrenaline rush was addictive,“
She attended Ypsilanti High School and stayed on the track team for all four years. During this time, she was introduced to running hurdles and further developed her skills in this area during her high school career.
Tiffany Porter made history by becoming the first woman ever to win five consecutive NCAA titles during her college career at U of M. Throughout her college journey, she accomplished a number of things, including obtaining a Big Ten Medal of Honor, a World Junior Medal, along with several Big Ten titles.
In 2009 after her eligibility was finished with U of M, she met her agent Mark Wetmore who helped her obtain a sponsorship deal with Adidas.
She represented the United States as a junior but represented Great Britain in 2010 and joined the senior ranks after moving to England for a period of time. This is when she competed for Great Britain at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Porter also won a bronze medal at the 2013 World Championships in the 100-meter hurdles.
Porter competed in her third and final Olympic Games in August 2021. She felt amazing knowing she still accomplished things even after becoming a first-time mother in July.
After the long relationship between Porter and track and field, she is ready to retire.
Porter said in her blog: “So now, as I officially close the chapter on our nearly three-decade-long relationship, I want to thank you track and field, for all you gave me and allowed me to experience."
Thank you for joining us for this week’s episode of the Eastern Echo News Podcast.
Reported: Breanna Harris, Meghan Forystek
Scripted: Tre Briscoe
Produced: Tre Briscoe
Host: Jacob Kendrick