GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The Kent Intermediate School District is asking superintendents across the county to encourage students and staff to wear masks this fall.
The guidance falls in line with recommendations released by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Health leaders also recommend the COVID-19 vaccine for students who are eligible.
A Thursday release from the ISD says that superintendents recently met with members of the Kent County Health Department, who encouraged mask use in schools across every grade level.
The recommendations from the ISD are not mandatory.
“They (superintendents) are ready to respond to an order or a rule that says you should do something else. Student safety and staff safety is our top priority. We want to do everything possible,” said Ron Koehler, the superintendent of Kent ISD.
“But in the circumstances where the president of the United States, the governor of Michigan, all of the public health officials who are responsible for the health and safety of the populace issue recommendations and not rules then our superintendents felt compelled to do the same,” he said.
Grand Rapids Public Schools said Wednesday that it is not requiring masks, but it is “strongly recommending” them for all staff, students and visitors regardless of vaccination status.
The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has urged districts to implement “layers” of prevention measures to provide the most protection, including promoting vaccinations, wearing masks, practicing physical distancing, screening and testing and making sure buildings are ventilated.
Michigan is seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases, likely linked to the highly transmissible delta variant. Still, case rates and hospitalizations remain relatively low compared to other points of the pandemic.
Statewide, 63.8% of the population age 16 and up had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday. That figure was 58.5% for the population age 12 and up.