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Ingham County issues two emergency orders including a mask requirement in schools, educational institutions

LANSING, Mich. – As students return to school in Ingham County among the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Ingham County Health Officer Linda S. Vail has issued today two public health orders in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools and other educational settings and to foster a healthy environment for in-person learning. The emergency orders require the use of face coverings and detail quarantine and isolation procedures for schools and other educational settings.

In August, the Ingham County Health Department issued strong recommendations for COVID-19 prevention strategies that reflected the guidance issued at both the State and National level. As a result of the efforts of superintendents and school boards within the Ingham Intermediate School District, 97% of students in public schools are already attending a district where masks have been required.

“We are grateful for the collaboration with our local schools and districts that have already required masks and continue to work with us on isolation and quarantine procedures,” said Ingham County Health Officer Linda Vail. “Unfortunately, our trends are going in the wrong direction and it’s crucial that we cover the gaps left behind in areas where mask requirements were not in place, including but not limited to daycare centers, childcare centers, preschools, youth programs, and private schools.”

With today’s emergency orders, Ingham county school districts are mandated to follow evidence-based prevention strategies for control of the COVID-19 epidemic in schools and educational institutions.

  • Emergency Order Ingham2021-2: All Persons in Educational Settings, regardless of vaccination status, are required to consistently and properly wear a facial covering while inside any enclosed building or structure of an Educational Institution or vehicle of an Educational Institution.
  • Emergency Order Ingham2021-3: The Education Institutions and all Persons in Educational Settings must adhere to specific isolation and quarantine measures, following identification of close contacts, household exposures, or confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Ingham County had a 515% increase in new-cases among 0-17 year olds when comparing the two-week period of July 1-14 and the two-week period of August 12-25. Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reported a five-fold increase in the number of COVID-19 cases among children in the last month, rising from approximately 38,000 cases at the end of July to 204,000 cases as of August 26, 2021. With vaccination rates of 61% among eligible individuals aged 12 and older in Ingham County, and many school-aged children too young to receive the vaccine, Ingham County school districts will now be mandated to follow prevention measures that are demonstrated to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Scientific studies overwhelming demonstrate the effectiveness of face coverings to prevent COVID-19 transmission. Face coverings provide source control by preventing asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic infected individuals who feel well and may be unaware of their infection from spreading respiratory droplets into the air allowing other people to become infected. Face coverings trap virus-containing droplets and aerosols that are spread when an infected individual coughs, sneezes, talks, or laughs.

“It is imperative that we use all of our tools and prevention strategies to control COVID-19 in educational settings to maintain in-person learning in the 2021-2022 school year and to do so safely,” said Health Officer Vail.

Both orders will be effective at midnight (12 a.m.) on Tuesday, September 7, 2021 and will remain in place until further order of the health officer.

The Ingham County Health Department will update and share their 2021-2022 COVID-19 School Handouts to reflect updates issued by Emergency Orders Ingham2021-2 and Ingham2021-3.