ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — Ann Arbor Public Schools is urging students and staff to mask up as they return to class next week after the holiday break.
According to a letter to families from the AAPS superintendent, the request is to help reduce the risk of classroom and school exposures to illness.
Ann Arbor Public Schools is asking that families, students and staff wear a mask while indoors for the first two weeks of school — Jan. 9 through Jan. 20.
The district is also asking that students are kept home if they are experiencing respiratory symptoms, a fever or vomiting/diarrhea. Families are also encouraged to report to the school if their child is diagnosed with COVID, RSV or influenza.
"Together, we can make this a healthy and strong start as we return to school to begin 2023," Jeanice K. Swift, PhD, wrote in a statement.
The letter was met with mixed reaction from Ann Arbor parents, with some saying it's not enough.
“Encouraging and recommending and strongly encouraging is really not strong enough. That’s not going to make the difference,” Ann Arbor parent Andy Brosius said. "Masks need to be required if we're going to stop the spread."
Brosius’ daughter has had two open heart surgeries and is considered high risk. Brosius' daughter stayed home for the last week before break after having multiple colds, but staying home won't be a long-term solution.
"Moving forward, I'm nervous. But I know realistically, my daughter needs to be in school," Brosius said. "We can take her out for a few days when it’s the highest risk but honestly, my daughter needs public education and right now, we risk her health sending her to school.”
Local Physician Dr. Ali Shuayto with Medcare Urgent Care says he's noticed an uptick in illnesses lately, specifically influenza. He says masks "absolutely" help prevent spread, but feels it's not an easy requirement for schools to make.
“The practice is great. It would just be hard to implement," Shuayto said. "From a medicine standpoint and medical standpoint, absolutely, using your mask is going to prevent the spread of these viruses because they are transferred via respiratory droplets.”
Around Ann Arbor, others felt masking should remain optional.
“I don't think it should be required," Ann Arbor resident David Maciejewski said. "If you feel more comfortable and people want to make it optional, by all means, but I don't think you should be required to at this point.”
"I'm concerned, I'm frustrated, but we don't have a lot of options," Brosius said. "We need the schools to be safe for students like my daughter.”