Ferndale Public Schools reinstates mask mandate as COVID-19 rates climb in Michigan

At least one Oakland County school is reinstating its mask mandate, following the elevation of the area's threat level over concerns of COVID-19 transmission.

Ferndale Public Schools says it will reinstate its mask ordinance beginning this week, after the county entered into the "high transmission" category for coronavirus. 

"We will be mandating masks (indoors only) for all students and staff as of Monday, May 16th, 2022," read the school district's website late last week.

In addition to Oakland, transmission rates were in the high category in Livingston, Macomb, St. Clair, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. Several other northern and western counties also met the same threshold as proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last week.

County health departments in Metro Detroit began lifting their mask ordinances February this year on the backs of vaccine coverage and growing immunity from COVID-19. Michigan has experienced low rates of transmission ever since.

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Case rates have been slowly ticking up, however. The state reported an average of 4,000 cases per day last week, increase from 2,700 daily cases recorded the week prior.

"As Omicron has moved into the state, and across the country, we've kind of been insidiously creeping up through medium, and now we've reached high transmission," said Dr. Russell Faust, the medical director for Oakland County.

The decision to update mask and other safety policies is now one that school districts must make. At first, it was a statewide order that was reduced to a health department ordinance. Only the state's most populated counties continued enforcing mask rules following policy actions in the legislature. Others rescinded their orders over lawsuit fears

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"We're still experiencing fatalities from COVID-19 infections so let's take this seriously. If you're out in public around other people, wear a mask protect yourself… get fully vaccinated and if you're eligible, get boosted," Dr. Faust said.