News Bite

Whitmer Will Make Call On Face Masks In Schools

Mask mandates will vary based on administration’s COVID-19 recovery judgment

Face mask use by students and staff will be required in schools under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s plan to reopen Michigan’s public education system during the Phase 4 stage of her six-phase plan for reopening the state.

In phases 1-3, in-school classes are not permitted. Schools may reopen when a Phase 4 announcement is made, with face masks required. Masks will be strongly recommended in Phase 5 and no longer required in the final Phase 6.

At this time only Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula have been declared to be in Phase 5, which leaves most schools in regions that remain in Phase 4. Whitmer had hinted several weeks ago that the rest of the state might be permitted to advance to Phase 5 by July 4, but she said on Tuesday “that's not going to happen.”

Under Phase 4, the plan says preK-12 teachers and staff must wear face coverings at all times in school, except for meals. Homemade coverings must be washed daily and disposable masks thrown away at the end of the day.

Face coverings must be worn by students in grades 6-12 at all times, including within the classroom. Students in grades K through 5 must wear face coverings on buses, in hallways and in common areas, but they are not required if “students remain with their classes throughout the school day and do not come into close contact with students in another class.”

The state describes pre-K as early childhood, pre-kindergarten and “from birth through age eight.” Whitmer's school reopening plan says face masks should never be worn by children under age 2.