Pontiac, MI - Oakland County Health Division will lift its requirement to wear masks in schools and daycares on Feb. 28 when it rescinds emergency order 2021-1, which obligated educational institutions to require students, teachers, and staff to wear a face covering in order to slow the transmission of COVID-19.
The Health Division weighed several factors to determine the appropriate time to end the mask requirement in schools, including a sharp decline in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and increasing vaccination rates in Oakland County.
"As we see our critical measures of vaccinations, hospital admissions, and cases moving in a direction that tell us the COVID-19 impact on our community is greatly improving, the time is right to remove the mask order for daycares and educational institutions," Health Division Medical Director Dr. Russell Faust said. "We must remain vigilant, however, while we remain in a pandemic. It is vital that we as individuals maintain the measures that are critical to limiting the spread of the virus while allowing businesses and schools to stay open, and our hospitals to operate safely."
The two-week notice provides local school districts time to prepare their staff, board members, and families for the upcoming changes and make any necessary district-level decisions and policies.
Oakland County Health Division will continue to support and guide local school districts to ensure they are utilizing public health tools to limit the spread of COVID-19 while allowing our students to safely maintain in-person learning for the rest of the school year. Prevention strategies against COVID-19, such as COVID-19 vaccinations, masking, hand washing, social distancing, and staying home when sick will help protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, and others. The Health Division still strongly recommends wearing a mask while in public indoor settings, including educational institutions.
The Health Division monitors key metrics that guide safety measures for the public. The county's test positivity has dropped nearly 50 percent; cases of COVID-19 during the week ending Feb.6 declined 40 percent, and the seven-day case average for Feb. 8 declined 83 percent from its peak in early January. Hospital admissions in Oakland County for adults dropped 72 percent since the peak on Jan. 10 and declined 67 percent for children since the highest admissions on Jan. 8.
School Mask Requirement in Oakland County Will End Feb. 28
According to the State of Michigan COVID-19 Vaccine Dashboard, as of Feb. 8, 75.8 percent of Oakland County residents 5 years old and older received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This number is even higher for residents 12 and older with 79.1 percent receiving their first dose while senior residents 65 and older have the highest first dose protection at 92.9 percent.
"I am grateful for our school leadership who has worked diligently with us on measures to keep students in schools, and our parents who are vaccinating their kids to keep them safe," Oakland County's Director of Health and Human Services Leigh-Anne Stafford said. "We are now at a place in the pandemic where an emergency health order should be replaced by individual action to protect ourselves, especially masking in public and getting vaccinated. As the local public health agency, we are committed to continuing our support of local school districts by providing best practices, current COVID-19 data, and recommendations for staying safe and healthy."
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and Oakland County Health Division recommends masking indoors and in crowded settings. For schools, the CDC and MDHHS recommend universal indoor masking by all students (ages 2 years old and older), staff, teachers, and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of vaccination status.
Reference: See rescinded emergency order 2021-1
General COVID-19 resources can be found on the Health Division's website at www.oakgov.com/covid or by contacting Nurse on Call at 800-848-5533 or