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Michigan 'not anticipating' requiring school districts to implement mask mandate

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Posted at 2:51 PM, Aug 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-14 14:53:03-04

The state is currently not anticipating an additional order requiring school districts to implement a mask mandate, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said in a press conference Friday.

However, the state is still strongly encouraging everyone wear masks in schools.

"We know that mask wearing is a cultural change we have to make and it's not easy to make it quickly," she said. "But the cost of this pandemic is necessitating that we do."

In response to questions about physical limitations making social distancing impossible, Whitmer said each school district has its own challenges and own resources.

She said the state could not implement a "one size fits all" determination due to schools having different resources.

"These are decisions that are going to need to be made at the local level," she said.

She said school boards, in conjunction with teachers, unions and parents, have to fashion what is going to make sense for them.

In regards to kids wearing masks, Whitmer said the most important thing is for parents to show kids that mask-wearing is the expectation and it's doable.

"We can do this," she said. "It's important to figure out how we can work with our children."

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said the state is doing everything it can to get kids back in school and, ideally, in person.

She said the state is suggesting limiting the number of people in classrooms and co-horting students; co-horting children, in addition to wearing masks, social distancing and washing hands, makes sure the disease spreads in a limited way, and makes it easier for contact tracing.

Overall, the governor said there needs to be more resources in the education system, period.

She said the state is not going to utilize this crisis to starve districts for funding based on choices they make.