Wayne County requirement leads to masking in Grosse Pointe schools

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 7, 2021

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GROSSE POINTES — Students, faculty, staff and visitors to Grosse Pointe Public School System facilities will be masking up again when the new school year starts Sept. 7 — after the Sept. 9 issue of the Grosse Pointe Times went to press.

The Wayne County Health Department issued an order Aug. 17 calling for “consistent and proper universal masking in educational institutions.” With only a handful of exceptions, the mask mandate applies to all, regardless of their vaccination status. The county order follows updated guidance from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, which announced Aug. 13 that all schools should mandate indoor mask use. On July 27, the CDC recommended that all individuals in school facilities wear masks indoors, whether or not they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

GPPSS Superintendent Jon Dean said the mask mandate isn’t coming from the school district, but they will follow the county’s directive.

“We’re going to comply with it,” Dean said.

Exceptions to the educational mask mandate include vaccinated teachers who work with students who are hearing impaired or who have developmental conditions that necessitate facial cues, people who are eating or drinking, children younger than 4, and people “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.”

County officials said rising COVID-19 case numbers and the more contagious Delta variant of the virus are among the reasons for the mask requirement.

“The health and safety of the students in Wayne County is our top priority as we welcome them back to school this year,” Wayne RESA Superintendent Daveda Colbert said by email in a prepared statement. “Wayne RESA has been in ongoing conversations with the county health division throughout the pandemic in order to implement and provide guidance on safety mitigation measures to best protect students, teachers and staff — including masks. … The work of our educators across the county in preparation for this school year has been extraordinary, especially given the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic. I know they are all eager to welcome students back to school — in a safe and secure learning environment that protects the health and wellbeing of their students.”

Masks are required indoors for students, faculty, staff and visitors to any school building, including the administrative building.