Oakland County Health Order Requires Masks in Schools and Daycares
(Oakland County Health Division, Aug. 24, 2021)
Oakland County, MI – The Oakland County Health Division issued an emergency health order today requiring masks in daycares and elementary, middle, high, and vocational schools regardless of vaccination status to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The order aligns with recent guidance from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) to ensure children, teachers, and staff are able to begin the school year safely.
This order comes on the heels of Oakland County returning to an indoor mask requirement for all employees last week regardless of vaccination status.
“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,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said. “This order allows teachers to get back to educating our students and focusing on their success.”
Oakland County Health Division issued Emergency Health Order 2021-1 through the authority of the county’s health officer after evaluating local, state, and national data and conditions.
COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising among children in the United States, with over 180,000 children testing positive the week of Aug. 12-19, an increase from the prior week when 120,000 child COVID-19 cases were reported, according to a report from the AAP.
Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated Oakland County is at substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission, especially the Delta variant. Of the 2,740 new cases of COVID-19 in Oakland County from Aug. 4-17, more than one in six were school age children. Over 52,000 Oakland County residents ages 12-19 years old remain unvaccinated as the 2021-2022 school year gets underway. Plus, students younger than 12 years are ineligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Oakland County’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.
Masks help reduce the transmission of COVID-19 by reducing the number of respiratory droplets containing the virus that may emanate from an infected individual who is asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic. Studies of COVID-19 incidence in school districts during the 2020-2021 school year show that proper masking is the most effective mitigation strategy to prevent secondary transmission in schools. One study out of North Carolina indicated masking helped reduce COVID-19 transmission between 40 and 70 percent.
Masking is part of a multi-layered approach to prevent the transmission of COVID-19. Other preventative measures include immunization, social distancing, good hand hygiene, staying home when sick, and avoiding high-risk activity.
Emergency Health Order 2021-1 does not apply to the following individuals:
Those eating or drinking.
Children under the age of four years (supervised masking is recommended for children who are at least two years old).
Anyone living with developmental conditions for whom it has been demonstrated 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.