Okemos and Haslett students will be required to wear masks on buses due to a federal mandate.
MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - School is almost back in session and with COVID-19 cases back on the rise with 3,474 new cases on Aug. 13 in Michigan, according to the New York Times, it leaves students, parents and staff wondering, are masks going to be required?
At Haslett and Okemos Public Schools, the answer is yes.
Both Haslett and Okemos Schools have these guidelines for the 2021-22 school year:
- Masks are required indoors for everyone during normal school hours.
- Masks are required for all students while riding buses.
- Masks are optional for students during lunch periods or outdoor activities.
- Mask waivers will be considered and/or accepted by the district for medical exemptions only.
Okemos Superintendent John J. Hood said in an email that unmasking is a possibility.
"Please know the opportunity to unmask in the future is likely to be based on an individual's vaccination status," Hood said.
As for the rest of Michigan, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) urges schools to require masking to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
MDHHS recommends all schools follow these policies:
- Promote vaccinations for those eligible.
- Require masking for all.
- Use multiple prevention strategies (e.g., social distancing, contact tracing, testing) to stop the spread of the virus.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, the chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at MDHHS, said schools need to promote vaccination because it is the best defense against the coronavirus.
"We are committed to ensuring Michigan students and educators are safe in the classroom, including those who may not yet be vaccinated," Khaldun said. "MDHHS is issuing this guidance to help protect Michiganders of all ages."
Both Haslett and Okemos Schools will continue to update the community about positive cases within the schools and contacting students or staff in close contact.
School starts for Okemos Public Schools on Aug. 24 and for Haslett Public Schools on Aug. 25.