Back to School: Detroit Students Required to Wear Face Coverings

DPSCD mandates all students K-12 wear masks, encourage vaccinations

By Roz Edward

Parents and students around the nation are preparing to return to school in the upcoming month and are adding new items to the annual school supply cart, with masks and hand sanitizers topping the list of school necessities.

The Centers for Disease Control officials recently released new and stricter recommendations for school children returning to school in the fall for the 2021-2022 school year. In a major reversal of previous student vaccinations announced in May of 2021 the CDC is suggesting that all U.S. students K-12 should be required to wear masks while in school.  Following a spike in the delta variant Covid cases, experts are emphasizing an urgent need for all students – vaccinated or not – to wear masks.

On July 26, the CDC in accordance with recommendations from pediatric experts is suggesting that all students, from kindergarten to 12th grade, wear masks while attending school.

These recommendations are tailored to regions of the country where COVID-19 infection rates are spiking — an increase of about 170 percent in total over the last two weeks alone.

The 2019 Census, which has the most recent population numbers by age, counted 20,827 kids aged 10-14 years old. The CDC groups age differently for vaccine tracking data, with the first group encompassing kids aged 12-15 years old. The tracking data shows there are 5,075,646 people in that age group with at least one dose of the vaccine and 3,766,429 who are fully vaccinated.

Tracking information doesn’t include a breakdown of both race and age, but Black people overall have the lowest vaccination rates. There are 26.2 percent of Black people with at least one dose and only 23.6 percent who are fully vaccinated. That number trails by at least six percent behind other groups.

The increase in Covid cases coupled with a vaccination rate that has slowed to a crawl throughout the Michigan is raising cause for concern in school districts throughout the state. Currently, only 62.4 percent of the state’s population has been vaccinated.

In Detroit, only about 38 percent of residents so far have received one dose of the vaccine, according to the city’s COVID-19 dashboard. That’s compared to 63 percent in outer-Wayne County, 55 percent in Macomb County and 66 percent in Oakland and Washtenaw counties.

To combat the slow rate of vaccinations and prepare school age children for a return to in-person learning in classroom settings, the Detroit Health Department has partnered with Detroit Public Schools Community District and is holding six vaccine sessions at three district schools for anyone ages 12 and older.

“We want everyone to feel confident about returning to school this fall, so they can fully participate in sports and all the extracurricular activities that are an important part of getting an education. I want everyone to stay safe and healthy, and these vaccines are the most important tool we have in fighting COVID-19,” said Chief Public Health Officer Denise Fair.

The Detroit Health Department is deploying its mobile vaccine clinic to select city schools to vaccinate more Detroiters against the delta variant of the virus.  Schools slated to administer first and second doses of the Pfizer vaccine are: Renaissance High School, East English Village High School, and Munger Middle School.

To date the effort dubbed the “school hubs” project is being met with relative success according to DPSCDC school officials who say they will also conduct daily temperature and symptom checks to keep students safe.

“DPSCD is continuing to collaborate with the Detroit Health Department to ensure eligible students and families are vaccinated and ready for the first day of school on September 7, 2021,” said Vitti. “We encourage you to do your research and get vaccinated. If you’re already vaccinated, share this opportunity with friends and family. We can help protect one another by getting the vaccine.”

Catholic schools in Detroit however won’t require masks or vaccinations among staff or students for the upcoming school year, but strongly recommends that eligible individuals get the COVID-19 vaccine and wear a face covering if they are more comfortable.

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