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Ottawa County school mask mandate drops at health department level, districts now to decide

Posted at 5:18 PM, Dec 29, 2021

HOLLAND, Mich. — Mask requirements while at school for students grades K–7 will lift after winter break in Ottawa County.

But not every school is completely done with masking, even though the health department will no longer mandate it.

Holland Public Schools says they're keeping masks. They explained that since it's still recommended close contacts isolate after exposure to someone positive with COVID, while not wearing a mask, they're asking all staff and students to wear masks at school.

They're hopeful this cuts down on quarantining too many students and staff and keeps in-person learning going.

“We wouldn’t be able to stay open. So really it’s a decision: Are we going to wear masks, or are we going to quarantine so many students and staff, we can’t have the building open anyways?” Communications Director for Holland Public Schools Jason Cramer said.

Holland Public Schools says they know face-to-face is how students learn best and don't want so many students to miss because they are in isolation; the days don't count for official records with the state for funding based on attendance.

Jenison Public Schools will let students and parents decide if they will wear masks while at school.

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“I think our families are ready to be back to normal as much as possible. But also making sure our kids are safe,” Jenison Public Schools Superintendent Brandon Graham said.

Around 40-50 percent of Jenison students are vaccinated. The district says because the health department isn't requiring masks, they won't either. But they are taking their lead and encouraging mask wearing for those who would like to.

The superintendent at Jenison says elementary school students being able to see their teachers' faces will improve learning.

“For our early readers, to be able to see how words are enunciated. That’s all things that are going to be enhanced,” Graham said.

The Ottawa County Department of Public Health says roughly 26% of eligible kids in the county are vaccinated.

They won't implement any new mandates for the time being unless something drastically changes. They say they are, of course, always monitoring the situation as it changes.

RELATED: Kent County adjusts COVID-19 isolation and quarantine guidelines in line with CDC

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