The debate over whether to require students and staff to wear masks inside school buildings for the approaching school year is intensifying across Michigan, turning school board meetings into battlegrounds and leaving parents pitted against each other.
The state once again waded into the debate Friday, issuing updated guidance that strongly recommends schools require universal masking in schools. But like previous state guidance that urged students and staff to wear masks in schools, the state did not issue an order requiring it.
The guidance is unlikely to change the decision-making process for district leaders, said Robert McCann, executive director of the K-12 Alliance of Michigan, a school advocacy group. Schools are already adhering to or and in some cases exceeding the state recommendations.
“If MDHHS wants masks to be mandatory, they certainly can issue a new order to require that and our districts would of course reevaluate,” McCann said.
Chalkbeat Detroit scoured websites and news articles to provide a glimpse into what decisions district leaders have already made over this volatile issue. This mask policy tracker, which now includes dozens of school districts, will continually be updated until the official start of the school year on Sept. 7.
A few things to know as you look at our tracker:
- Many districts haven’t yet made decisions about whether or not to require marks. And those that have decided could make changes based on updated local, state, and federal guidance. For instance, many of the districts in Genesee County had made decisions prior to Thursday, when the county health department issued an order requiring students in grades K-6 wear masks in school buildings.
- Most of the districts that are not requiring masks still strongly recommend masks be worn in schools. Some are particularly urging unvaccinated individuals to wear masks.
- Even in districts where masks aren’t required, students and staff must wear them on school buses. That’s due to a federal order requiring masks on public transportation.
Michigan has more than 800 school districts and charter schools. If you have information about a district that isn’t included on our list, send the info to us at [email protected].
This article was originally posted on Find out which districts are requiring masks and which aren’t