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Ann Arbor Public School district under 2 week mask mandate

Posted at 6:10 AM, Jan 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-09 06:10:10-05

ANN ARBOR, MI (WXYZ) — Ann Arbor Public Schools is bringing back its mask mandate.

The decision comes after a surge in respiratory illnesses that led to at least five school closures in the month of December. The district wants to limit the spread following the winter break.

Right now, Michigan is reporting "medium" community levels for COVID cases according to the CDC map.

The mask mandate will be in place for two weeks and Ann Arbor parents have mixed feelings.

"I was delighted to see it," Ann Arbor parent Andy Brosius said.

Andy's daughter has underlying health concerns.

"My daughter has a serious heart condition. She's had a handful of open-heart surgeries and any disease, but particularly covid with its cardiac manifestations, is really dangerous for her," she said.

Andy's daughter was also relieved to hear about the implementation, especially, with people traveling over the district's winter break.

"Just to reduce that exposure to the couple minutes that they're eating in the lunch room I think will make a huge difference," Andy said.

The district came out with its decision on Sunday. One of the main reasons is because flu levels in the state are currently at moderate levels and COVID levels are also at a medium level of spread in Washtenaw County.

Before winter break, five Ann Arbor schools had to close because of a surge in illnesses. Michigan was hit with a trifecta of illnesses and children hospitals were seeing an influx of patients.

"The letter says that 20% or more of students in Madeline's class were out sick. The letter suggested a number of measures to mitigate. Unfortunately, none of those measures were masks," Andy said.

But not all parents agree with the two-week mask mandate.

"I don't think it should be required. As always, if you feel more comfortable and people want to make it optional then by all means. But I don't think that anybody should be required to at this point," one parent said.

The goal of the mask mandate is to reduce the spread of respiratory illnesses and to make sure kids are not out of school.

During the two weeks, the district says they'll keep a close eye on absences each day and take extra steps if needed.

"I hope that the district continues to make choices based on data and public health interest," Andy said.