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Clio Area Schools requiring face masks when students return from four-day break

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CLIO, Mich. (WJRT) - Clio Area Schools is joining the growing list of districts requiring face masks as COVID-19 spreads rapidly among students and staff.

Clio Superintendent Fletcher Spears III said the district has seen 155 confirmed and 621 probable COVID-19 illnesses since classes resumed after Christmas break. Face masks were optional after the break.

The Genesee County Health Department issued a face mask mandate for all schools and educational facilities in the county in August. It expired on Dec. 22, when most schools began Christmas break.

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Several school districts in the county, like Clio, had optional face mask policies beginning this month. But COVID-19 has been setting records across Michigan as the Omicron variant spreads quickly. 

Clio school officials have tested 900 students for the illness this week. Over 750 student absences on Thursday pushed Clio schools below Michigan's minimum attendance threshold of 75%, so the district cannot count it as a regular day of instruction.

"We need to make some temporary changes to keep our students in school," Spears wrote in a letter to the community.

Clio schools all closed on Friday and they have a scheduled day off Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. 

Face masks will be required for all pre-K through 12th grade students when they return to class on Tuesday. The face mask order will remain in place until at least Jan. 28, but administrators may consider an extension if the COVID-19 situation doesn't improve enough.

"I ask for your cooperation as we work through the next two weeks to keep our students in school," Spears wrote.  

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