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Grand Rapids Public Schools 'strongly reccomends' masking

District responds to new guidance from state
Posted at 11:25 PM, Aug 04, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-04 23:25:01-04

GRAND RAPIDS — As students get ready to return to classes at Grand Rapids Public Schools, the district is updating families on its Covid recommendations, after the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services released new guidance heading into the school year.

In addition to encouraging vaccines, the district is also strongly recommending that all students and employees wear masks indoors, regardless of their vaccination status. Officials also note that face coverings do not need to be worn outdoors for recess or outdoor learning activities.

Under federal mandate, face coverings are mandatory on school buses.

The district will also practice hand washing, enhanced cleaning of classrooms and buildings to help stop the spread of Covid.

Officials tell FOX 17 they've also made improvements to the ventilation systems.

"We will continue to implement all the mitigated the other mitigation measures from ventilation, which we had portable ventilation units installed in the areas after we did an independent study with ventilation," said GRPS spokesperson, John Helmholdt.

When it comes to sports, the district says it will continue to follow guidance from the Michigan High School Athletic Association, which is aligned with recommendations put out by the state Wednesday.

The new guidance from Michigan health officials is getting mixed reviews from parents, with many applauding them, saying they feel safer sending their kids to school, while others say, if the masking becomes a mandate, they'll opt for homeschooling.

"We know that there are parents that feel very strongly on both sides of this, as there are staff members that feel that way. We are strongly encouraging all of our staff persons to model this guidance," said Helmholdt.

As the start of the school year inches closer, GRPS says it will continue to monitor the data and work closely with the Kent County Health Department to keep everyone as safe as possible.

"Our hope is to get back to normal and they're really focusing on the academic, social, emotional, mental supports our students need that social interaction that the kids are yearning for," said Helmholdt.

The new school year for GRPS will begin on August 24 and will be fully in-person. Officials say they no longer have the same flexibility to do the virtual or hybrid learning they were doing at the height of the pandemic.