Wayne County rescinds school face mask rule Thursday

Wayne County has announced it is immediately rescinding its school mask mandate that was ordered last August.

The county health department's lifting of the face covering rule is effective as of 8 a.m. Feb. 17.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District will continue to require students to mask up for safety reasons.

Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti,said DPSCD will continue to follow the CDC guidelines which recommend masks in schools. He released a statement below:

"We look forward to the day staff and students do not need to wear a mask in DPSCD. At this point, the CDC has not changed their recommendation that masks be worn in schools. We also currently agree with the Detroit Health Department that this day will occur a little later than other school districts due to the city’s lower vaccination rates and higher transmission rates. 

"We are reaching nearly 100% of students consenting to COVID testing and when that occurs, and non-consenting students are transferred to the virtual school, we will be in a better position to allow for optional mask wearing for employees and students. We anticipate this will occur by mid-March to mid-April. We also want to ensure that the city does not experience another surge after Spring Break. Once those obstacles are cleared we would consider lifting the mask requirement."

Chief Medical and Health Officer Avani Sheth said the decision comes after the state let its own face covering mandate expire earlier this week. Wayne County's face mask rule had been ordered prior to the start of the 2021-22 school year. Oakland and Washtenaw County have also ordered their face mask rules over, but the mandate will lift on Feb. 28.

MORE: 73% of Americans immune from omicron, study finds

On Wednesday, the state health department said it was lifting its recommendation that face masks be worn in public settings like schools, following a depression in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

The decision was the latest indication that health officials are optimistic about the state of the pandemic as Michigan follows the trail of the waning omicron surge that beleaguered hospitals in the early winter.

Not all health officials are convinced it's wise to lower the mask recommendation. 

But the health department said climbing vaccine rates and the volume of COVID-19 cases from the omicron wave are indicative of a protected population.

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The state still recommends all individuals, regardless of vaccination status, continue wearing face masks in high-risk settings. Homeless shelters, long-term care facilities, correctional facilities, jails, and health care sites are all included under that designation.