Wayne County has now joined neighboring Oakland County in mandating masks be worn in local school districts, schools and daycare providers.
The latest pandemic health order by the Wayne County Health Department takes effect immediately and requires students, faculty, staff and visitors to wear a face mask while in school and during school-sponsored indoor events.
The order directs schools and daycare providers to require indoor wearing of face masks for all pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students, regardless of their vaccine status; and, require face masks be worn indoors by all teachers, administrative staff, other employees, parent/guardians, attendees, and volunteers.
Last week, Wayne County public health officials issued “strong recommendations” that all school districts implement a COVID-19 safety plan that includes a universal mask requirement. With Friday’s order, wearing a mask while indoors is now mandatory for all students, staff, employees and visitors at public, private and parochial educational settings, including daycare centers, throughout Wayne County.
Walk-in vaccinations are available to residents at Wayne County clinics for both initial shots and boosters. Appointments as well as arrangements for in-home booster for homebound residents can be made by calling 1-866-610-3885 or text “WAYNE VAX” to 48355.
Governor Whitmer commended Wayne County and other school district’s decision to mandate masks. There are a total of 179 school districts in Michigan with a mask policy, covering more than 674,000 students or 53.8 percent of students in traditional public schools in Michigan.
“After 19 months of COVID, the science is clear: vaccines and masks keep kids safe and help them continue learning in person,” Whitmer said in a statement. “On vaccines, the message is simple: every eligible Michigander 12 and older should get their safe, effective, and FDA-approved, vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.”
Whitmer said that both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the CDC have strongly recommended that districts require masks for students, teachers, and staff in schools regardless of vaccination status because it will allow them everyone to stay safe while continuing to learn and grow in-person.
“I agree with our top health experts,” she said.
Whitmer said the state is expecting the number of school districts requiring masks to grow as the first day of school approaches.
Earlier this week, nearly 200 parents in Oakland County protested the decision to require masks in schools, while more than three dozen parents in neighboring Macomb County protested against its decision not to initiate a mask mandate.
The news of local mask mandates comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations among children reached their highest reported levels this week in the U.S., prompting CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said school closures will occur in districts with insufficient safety measures to block community spread of the virus.
“I want to strongly appeal to those districts who have not implemented prevention strategies and encourage them to do the right thing to protect the children under their care,” Walensky said at the White House on Friday. “In our outbreak investigations, large-scale quarantines, or large number of cases are generally occurring in schools because schools are not following our guidance.”
Wayne County continues to hold its status as a hotbed for COVID-19 infections in the state. Health department tallies shows almost 108,000 cases in the state, excluding the city of Detroit which has its own health department. Dearborn leads the county in numbers, with 13,745 cases and 252 deaths, as it has throughout the pandemic.
The highly infectious Delta variant has been pushing a surge in cases for past few months, becoming the dominant variant of the virus in the country. In the U.S., new daily cases are averaging at about 152,000 in the last seven days, compared to the 11,000 seven-day average in June, according to the CDC.