LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a statement Friday supporting school districts that have implemented mask mandates.
As of Friday afternoon, 179 districts had issued mandates, covering more than 674,000 students or 53.8% of students enrolled in traditional public schools in Michigan, according to a news release.
“After 19 months of COVID, the science is clear: Vaccines and masks keep kids safe and help them continue learning in person.
“On vaccines, the message is simple: Every eligible Michigander 12 and older should get their safe, effective, and FDA-approved vaccine to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their community.
“On masks, both the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the CDC have strongly recommended that districts require masks for students, teachers, and staff in schools regardless of vaccination status because it will allow everyone to stay safe while continuing to learn and grow in-person. I agree with our top health experts.
“As of today, 179 districts totaling over 53% of Michigan students, are covered by mask requirements implemented by their school district or local county health department. That number has increased substantially over the last few weeks, and we expect to see that trend continue as the first day of school approaches.
“Districts and local public health leaders should keep working together to implement mask guidelines and create buy-in at the community level, which leads to better outcomes and better adherence to policies that keep kids, teachers, staff, and parents safe.
“Together, we can protect ourselves from COVID and ensure kids keep learning in person.”
Whitmer’s statement comes during the same week that county commissioners in Ottawa and Kent counties listened to hours of public comments regarding school mask policies, most of them in opposition.
It also comes amid increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the state and throughout the U.S.