County issues emergency order requiring masks in schools

The Oakland County Health Division on Tuesday issued an emergency health order that will require masks for all students and staff in daycare facilities and K-12 and vocational schools, even if they’re vaccinated.

Last week, the county required indoor masks for all employees, regardless of vaccination status.

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Maria Taylor Johnna Balk David Delind for Farmington city council

A county press release cited guidance from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, which earlier this month recommended masks for school staff and students ages 2 and older.

“Our top priority is keeping students in school for in-person learning. Masking is one of the best defenses against increased transmission of COVID and higher hospitalization rates among kids,” County Executive Dave Coulter said. “This order allows teachers to get back to educating our students and focusing on their success.”

As of Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list the county at substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission, especially the Delta variant. Of the 2,740 COVID-19 cases in Oakland County from August 4-17, more than one in six were school-age children, according to the release.

Over 52,000 Oakland County residents ages 12-19 years old remain unvaccinated as the 2021-2022 school year gets underway. Students younger than 12 years can’t receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The county’s seven-day test positivity rate has climbed to 6.6 percent. After seeing numbers below 100, the Farmington area has had more than 300 recent COVID-19 cases (diagnosed over the past 30 days).

The emergency order does not apply to:

  • Those eating or drinking.
  • Children under the age of four (supervised masking is recommended for children who are at least two years old).
  • Anyone living with developmental conditions for whom it has been shown that the use of a face covering would inhibit the person’s access to education (those with Individualized Education Plan, Section 504 Plan, Individualized Healthcare Plan or equivalent).
  • Vaccinated teachers working with children who are hard of hearing or students with developmental conditions who benefit from facial cues.
  • Persons who have a medical reason confirmed in writing from a physician.

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