GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Students and teachers will return to class Monday. For many, it will be the first time in nearly two years that they won’t be required to wear a mask.
Both the Kent County Health Department’s and Ottawa County Health Department’s mask mandates expired Monday. In Kalamazoo County, the mask mandate has expired as well.
As COVID-19 cases remain high in West Michigan, several districts have decided to implement mask mandates. Some of those schools include Grand Rapids Public Schools, Holland Public Schools, Kentwood Public Schools, Grand Haven Public Schools and Kalamazoo Public Schools.
Galesburg-Augusta Schools will require students and staff to wear masks for their first week of school.
GRPS says it will keep its mask mandate in place for students regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status throughout the end of the year.
State health officials still recommend universal masking in schools to continue to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and cut down on the time students have to quarantine if they’re unvaccinated.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, if a student is exposed and student with the virus are both wearing masks but don’t have symptoms, the exposed student can participate in school activities as long as they wear a mask for 14 days and test every other day for a week.
If one or both aren’t wearing a mask, the exposed student can stay at the discretion of their local health department.
Fully vaccinated students exposed to the virus don’t need to quarantine but students who test positive should stay at home for 10 days regardless of symptoms.
State health leaders also recommend schools should postpone any large gatherings, like concerts, sporting events or meetings or make them virtual. The only exception to that would be school lunches or if the event is deemed essential.