MDHHS- Issue a Public Health Order Requiring Universal Masking in Schools

MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel

MiPASS Cover Photo

PETITION FOR UNIVERSAL INDOOR MASKING AT SCHOOLS

As parents, family and community members concerned about increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths amid the rapid spread of the Delta variant, we ask the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a public health order requiring that masks be worn at all K-12 schools in Michigan. Approximately 40% of Michigan school children attend a school with a mask optional policy. The remaining 60% have some sort of policy, but these vary widely.

To protect the health and safety of our children, teachers, staff and loved ones:

  1. We ask the MDHHS to require masks for everyone in all Michigan Pre-K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status, to be worn indoors during school, in classrooms and at school board meetings; and
  2. We ask the MDHHS to outline consistent notification protocols to ensure that families, communities and local health departments can trace and stop disease spread as soon as cases are confirmed.

Building upon the important work the MDHHS has done during this pandemic to protect health, including providing school quarantine procedures and testing support[1], a universal mask protocol provides an essential layer of protection[2] for individuals in school and beyond. While effective, safe vaccines are now available for people ages 12 and older, more than 641,000 pre-K- to 5th-grade students[3] in Michigan are still ineligible for vaccinations. For these children, a mask is all that stands between staying healthy and getting infected by a COVID-19-positive individual. Symptomatic and asymptomatic infected children who are unmasked can also infect others[4], lengthening the pandemic and prolonging suffering.

Science and evidence show masks can defend the wearer and people around them from COVID-19 transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention[5], the American Academy of Pediatrics[6] and the American Medical Association[7] strongly recommend universal masking in schools. Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun[8], advises that universal masks in school can slow COVID-19 outbreaks.

A statewide mask mandate ensures all children, anywhere in Michigan, can learn in a safe environment regardless of geography[9]. Universal masks mean children with health challenges or special needs can be in their classroom safely. When everyone wears a mask in school, Michigan can reduce outbreaks and the resulting quarantines that force parents to leave work, pay for unexpected daycare and even lose wages, which disproportionately hurt lower- and middle-income families. A mask mandate for all schools can end chaos and responsibly return children to in-person learning, eliminating the inequities of virtual learning[10] that is accessible to some but not all families.

As Americans, we have a responsibility to stand up to COVID-19 with a unified resolve and do our part to defend the health and safety of our families, friends and fellow citizens. When an enemy -- whether other nations, terrorists or microscopic viruses -- attacks America, we have a duty to respond, using all our resources to protect ourselves and each other. Despite the noise from a segment of Michiganders who have been misguided by disinformation and deception, far more Americans believe in our patriotic duty and a condition of citizenship to fight for our common good. This shared aspiration includes defending the freedom every American can enjoy with good health and safe communities so they can live full lives and pursue their dreams. This sense of shared responsibility is reflected in polls showing widespread support for mask mandates[11].  

Through this petition, parents are also expressing our frustration at politicians who threaten to cut much-needed funds from local public health agencies and schools who support health and safety protocols such as mask mandates. We ask all our leaders to demand an end to retaliation, harassment, and threats against school board members, doctors, and fellow Michiganders who support science-based COVID-19 safety protocols.

Public health agencies such as the MDHHS have been central to preserving and protecting our common good.

Because of how critical a universal mask mandate is to reducing the unacceptably high risk of COVID-19 exposure[12] in classrooms and defend the safety of our children, we fully support and welcome a public health order requiring masks be worn in schools across our state.


[1] https://www.michigan.gov/documents/coronavirus/MI_Safer_Schools_Guidance_for_Managing_Students_Exposed_to_COVID-19_734750_7.pdf?fbclid=IwAR1asDA1RXBkOCSU_fkoGq8Y0JQQ1IZ2Dk6SeLE3GJ2w6hwKVo4Uw86Z7fY

[2] https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-health-watch/which-michigan-school-covid-measures-work-we-asked-scientists


To: MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel
From: [Your Name]

Director Hertel,

We write to you as parents, family and community members concerned about increasing COVID-19 hospitalizations and deaths amid the rapid spread of the Delta variant, we ask the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to issue a public health order requiring that masks be worn at all K-12 schools in Michigan. Approximately 40% of Michigan school children attend a school with a mask optional policy. The remaining 60% have some sort of policy, but these vary widely.

To protect the health and safety of our children, teachers, staff and loved ones:
1. We ask the MDHHS to require masks for everyone in all Michigan Pre-K-12 schools regardless of vaccination status, to be worn indoors during school, in classrooms and at school board meetings; and

2. We ask the MDHHS to outline consistent notification protocols to ensure that families, communities and local health departments can trace and stop disease spread as soon as cases are confirmed.

Building upon the important work the MDHHS has done during this pandemic to protect health, including providing school quarantine procedures and testing support , a universal mask protocol provides an essential layer of protection for individuals in school and beyond. While effective, safe vaccines are now available for people ages 12 and older, more than 641,000 pre-K- to 5th-grade students in Michigan are still ineligible for vaccinations. For these children, a mask is all that stands between staying healthy and getting infected by a COVID-19-positive individual. Symptomatic and asymptomatic infected children who are unmasked can also infect others , lengthening the pandemic and prolonging suffering.

Science and evidence show masks can defend the wearer and people around them from COVID-19 transmission. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association strongly recommend universal masking in schools. Michigan’s chief medical executive, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun , advises that universal masks in school can slow COVID-19 outbreaks.

A statewide mask mandate ensures all children, anywhere in Michigan, can learn in a safe environment regardless of geography . Universal masks mean children with health challenges or special needs can be in their classroom safely. When everyone wears a mask in school, Michigan can reduce outbreaks and the resulting quarantines that force parents to leave work, pay for unexpected daycare and even lose wages, which disproportionately hurt lower- and middle-income families. A mask mandate for all schools can end chaos and responsibly return children to in-person learning, eliminating the inequities of virtual learning that is accessible to some but not all families.

As Americans, we have a responsibility to stand up to COVID-19 with a unified resolve and do our part to defend the health and safety of our families, friends and fellow citizens. When an enemy -- whether other nations, terrorists or microscopic viruses -- attacks America, we have a duty to respond, using all our resources to protect ourselves and each other. Despite the noise from a segment of Michiganders who have been misguided by disinformation and deception, far more Americans believe in our patriotic duty and a condition of citizenship to fight for our common good. This shared aspiration includes defending the freedom every American can enjoy with good health and safe communities so they can live full lives and pursue their dreams. This sense of shared responsibility is reflected in polls showing widespread support for mask mandates .

Public health agencies such as the MDHHS have been central to preserving and protecting our common good.

Because of how critical a universal mask mandate is to reducing the unacceptably high risk of COVID-19 exposure in classrooms and defend the safety of our children, we fully support and welcome a public health order requiring masks be worn in schools across our state.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the people of the State of Michigan.