Detroit Regional Chamber > Business Resources > COVID-19 > Wayne County mandates masks in K-12 schools, day cares

Wayne County mandates masks in K-12 schools, day cares

August 30, 2021
Detroit Free Press
Aug. 27, 2021
Lily Altavena

Wayne County’s Public Health Department instituted a mask mandate Friday for all county school districts, schools and day care providers.

The order applies to public and private schools in Wayne County.

The mandate, which requires masks indoors to be worn by students, staff members and visitors, follows a similar mandate in Oakland County, along with other counties across the state. More than 260,000 students attend public schools in Wayne County.

Detroit, which kicks off its school year Sept. 7, already planned to require masks, as did Dearborn. However, Detroit is under the oversight of the city’s health department.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Office issued a news release shortly after Wayne County’s announcement. According to the governor’s office, 179 districts serving 675,000 students are now covered by mask mandates. A little more than 500 school districts operate in Michigan serving 1.4 million students.

The state in recent weeks has drawn criticism for its failure to take statewide action on a mandate, but Whitmer has stood by leaving the decision to local health departments and districts.

“Districts and local public health leaders should keep working together to implement mask guidelines and create buy-in at the community level, which leads to better outcomes and better adherence to policies that keep kids, teachers, staff, and parents safe,” she said in Friday’s statement.

School leaders are trying to make decisions on masks while on the receiving end of fiery pressure from parents who feel strongly on both sides. Hundreds of people showed up at Oakland County’s Health Division building the morning after the county ordered schools to require masks.

The protesters loudly circled the building, pledging in anger to disrupt the work of the department for hours, claiming masks amounted to child abuse.

Other parents, however, have pleaded for mask mandates in counties without them. Parents of medically vulnerable children in particular say they feel scared sending their children to school without a mask requirement.

Melissa Daub, a Wayne County commissioner, cheered the move in a statement on Friday.

“I applaud the Wayne County Health Department for following the science, and leading by example to keep our children safe,” she said.

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