News Story

Ann Arbor schools to require masks, again

Three years into COVID-19 pandemic, Ann Arbor Public Schools returns to masking

On Sunday, just before students in Ann Arbor Public Schools were set to return to the classroom, the district reinstated its mask requirement. From Jan. 9 to 20, three years into the COVID-19 pandemic, students in Ann Arbor will be forced to wear masks to attend school.

“On further consideration of the disruption caused for families when schools are closed due to illness and absences, and in light of the current health risks for our students and staff, we are updating the AAPS Health Advisory as follows,” read an announcement from Superintendent Jeanice Swift. “Masks are required while indoors in AAPS schools from January 9 - 20.” (The bold lettering and underlining appeared in the announcement.)

Swift continues, “The Ann Arbor Public Schools will require well-fitting masks to be worn by students, staff and visitors while indoors in AAPS schools, beginning on January 9th and during the first two weeks following the winter break. Extra masks are available at all school buildings for use by students and staff.” Again, the underlining appears in the original text.

What data is the mask requirement based on? How do school officials know that things will change by Jan. 20? Ann Arbor Public Schools did not respond to a request for comment.

Tucked inside the mask requirement is an endorsement of in-person schooling. Ann Arbor Public Schools was one of the latest holdouts in Michigan in 2020-21, not returning to in-person learning until March 2021, a year after the pandemic began.

But in her letter Sunday, the district superintendent argued for the “critical importance” of in-person learning.

“During this time of return from travel and social activities, the requirement of masks while indoors at school is a measure to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses and related absenteeism and to prioritize health and in-school learning, particularly at this transition time following the winter break,” the announcement explains. “We all understand the critical importance of our students and staff being present for in-school learning on every day possible.”

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.