While Gov. Gretchen Whitmer dodges the tough decision, Oakland County health officials stepped up Tuesday, issuing an emergency health order mandating masks for students and staff in all preschools and K-12 public schools.
The order affects about 210,000 students in 28 public school districts and 22 charter schools academies. It applies regardless of vaccination status.
“Studies of Covid-19 incidence in school districts during the 2020-21 school year demonstrate that proper masking is the most effective mitigation strategy to prevent secondary transmission in schools when Covid-19 is circulating and when vaccination is unavailable, or there is insufficient uptake of vaccination,” the order says.
The three-page order says athletes must wear a mask except when swimming or when consistently maintaining six-feet of social distance.
While a face covering is strongly encouraged even for those not required to wear one, the mandate doesn't apply to children younger than four or those who can't tolerate it. Also exempt are vaccinated teachers working with children who are hard of hearing or students with developmental conditions who benefit from facial cues.
This order stays in effect until authorities determine the threat is no longer present.
A county announcement has this background:
Oakland’s seven-day case average is 178 new cases per day or about 1,250 new cases per week, many among the unvaccinated. The county’s seven-day test positivity rate has climbed to 6.6 percent.
The test positivity rate has been rising since the beginning of July and has exceeded 5.0 percent since early August.