LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has released their new recommendations for schools, which includes wearing a mask to help those who aren’t fully vaccinated.

“I am pleased with the progress of our vaccination efforts in Michigan, with 56% of Michiganders age 12 and older having received at least their first dose of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS. “These vaccines are the reason transmission of the virus in Michigan is at the lowest point in a year. However, as the school environment brings together large groups of individuals who may not yet be vaccinated, MDHHS is issuing this guidance to help protect Michiganders of all ages.”

 All of the strategies provide some level of protection, and layered strategies implemented at the same time provide the greatest level of protection, the MDHHS said.

“Schools are notably places for outbreaks because they’re congregate settings, kids are there for multiple hours a day and are there day after day,” said health officer, Linda Vail with the Ingham County Health Department.

You can view the key prevention strategies in school below:

  1. Promoting COVID-19 vaccination for eligible staff and students.
  2. Correctly and consistently using well-fitted masks that cover the nose and mouth. CDC recommendations for when to wear a mask in school settings.
  3. Social Distancing: Physical distancing, including cohorting children together to reduce potential exposures.
  4. COVID-19 Screening, Testing and Contact Tracing
    • Encouraging students and staff to stay home if sick or having COVID-19 symptoms.
    • Encouraging students and staff to get tested for COVID-19 if having symptoms or if they are not fully vaccinated and are a close contact of someone who has COVID-19.
    • Conducting screening
    • Implementing contact tracingand quarantine, collaborating with the local health department.
  5. Maintaining Healthy Environments

The Great Lakes Education Project released a statement in response saying that Governor Whitmer was wrong for making kids wear masks in school.

“Gretchen Whitmer is recommending districts force kindergartners and elementary school students to wear masks at school next year, but she’s wrong.  The science is clear and it’s unambiguous.  Vaccination rates are rising, and young children are at by far the lowest risk of contracting, experiencing serious symptoms from, or transmitting COVID-19. 

“Whitmer spent the last year telling our kids what they can do, when they can do it, and what they have to wear – without any scientific evidence to back her up.  Now she wants to control kids into 2022.  Parents have had enough.” 

GLEP Executive Director Beth DeShone

Vail says there have been talks of approving a vaccine for kids younger than 12 years old but she doesn’t believe it would be before the fall.