Kent and Ottawa county health departments issued an order requiring students in grades pre-kindergarten through sixth to wear masks this fall.
The identical public health orders require people in grades pre-kindergarten through six to consistently and properly wear a facial covering while inside any closed building or structure.
The health departments say the orders were issued to protect vulnerable individuals and those who are not yet vaccinated, to reduce transmission of COVID-19 in schools and the community, and to minimize interruptions to in-person learning.
The orders are effective immediately and will remain in effect until “60 days past the date COVID-19 vaccine is authorized or approved by the Food and Drug Administration and available to persons in pre-kindergarten through grade six, or community transmission for Kent and Ottawa counties are respectively categorized as “Low” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for at least seven consecutive days, or until further notice from the Administrative Health Officer.”
Here's what the orders require:
- Educational institutions shall ensure that people in grades pre-kindergarten through six consistently and properly wear a facial covering (mask) while inside any closed building or structure.
- Educational institutions shall ensure that all persons, regardless of vaccination status, providing service to any persons in pre-kindergarten through grade six, properly and consistently wear a facial covering while inside any building or structure of the institution.
The health departments say these are the exceptions to the order:
- Persons in the act of eating or drinking.
- Persons under the age of four years; however, supervised masking is recommended for children who are at least two years of age.
- Persons with developmental conditions of any age attending school for whom it has been demonstrated that the use of a face covering would inhibit the person's access to education. These are limited to persons with an Individualized Education Plan, Section 504 Plan, Individualized Healthcare Plan or equivalent.
- Vaccinated teachers who are 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 Medical Doctor (MD) or Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) currently licensed to practice medicine in the State of Michigan.