School boards, athletic events included in Genesee County mask mandate

Published: Sep. 13, 2021 at 9:29 AM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - The school mask mandate in Genesee County extends beyond classrooms.

The Genesee County Health Department issued an update on its school mask mandate Monday morning, clarifying that the measure also includes extracurricular and afterschool events. Face masks are required for indoor athletic events and other activities, including school board meetings, in Genesee County.

The health department also clarified that youth camps, youth programs, preschools, child care centers, tutoring centers and vocational schools also must enforce the mask mandate for all indoor activities involving pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade students.

The mask order for Genesee County says all students, staff, parents, community members and volunteers are required to wear a face covering in indoor corridors, restrooms or other areas of educational facilities.

The revised order takes effect Monday morning and continues until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify Genesee County as moderate transmission of COVID-19 for 14 consecutive days.

The Genesee County Health Department defines an adequate face covering as a, “tightly woven cloth or other multi-layer absorbent material that closely covers an individual’s mouth and nose.” They will not allow face coverings with vents, lace, holes or exhalation valves.

The only exceptions to Genesee County’s mask order include:

  • Anyone seated at a desk or table while eating or drinking.
  • Anyone outdoors who is not engaging in an activity that involves direct physical contact.
  • Anyone younger than age 4 (but the health department still recommends masks for children age 2 and older).
  • Any fully vaccinated teachers working with deaf and hard of hearing students, who benefit from seeing direct facial cues.
  • Any students with developmental disabilities who would lose access to education by having to wear a mask. They include students who do not understand how to put on a mask or lack physical mobility to put on and take off a mask.
  • Anyone with a written medical reason from their doctor and they must complete a required form.

The Genesee County Health Department was the first in Michigan to issue a mask order for the new school year. The original order issued Aug. 12 applied to students, staff and volunteers in kindergarten through sixth-grade, but it was expanded on Thursday.

Over 60% of Michigan students will be covered by face covering rules this fall. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said school districts and local health departments across Michigan have imposed face mask rules now covering 229 districts with nearly 758,000 students for the new school year.

Eight of Michigan’s 10 most populous counties have mask rules for schools, including Genesee.

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