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Genesee County lifting school mask mandate December 22

Steve Carmody
Michigan Radio
“Talk about it with their doctor, and then get the vaccine, get the second dose and give the children two weeks to do it," says Dr. Pamela Hackert (left), Genesee County Medical Health Officer, discussing parents considering vaccinating their children the COVID-19 vaccine.

Genesee County plans to lift its mask mandate on county K-12 schools next month.

Genesee County’s school mask mandate was put into effect in August as the county saw a rising COVID-19 case rate. The county’s coronavirus rate remains high, with over 300 cases per 100,000 people per week.

But Dr. Pamela Hackert, Genesee County Medical Health Officer, says the availability of a vaccine for children as young as five years old will allow the mask mandate to be lifted after December 22.

She says the delay will give parents time to decide if they want their young children vaccinated.

“But we strongly recommend that school districts continue to require universal masking for their students, staff, teachers and visitors,” says Hackert, citing the ongoing recommendation by the CDC, MDHHS and the AAP, which is now supported by multiple studies including that from the University of Michigan.

The county is leaving in place mask mandates for educational settings with children less than five years old.

As in other parts of Michigan, Genesee County’s school mask mandate has been controversial, prompting protests and a few alleged threats directed at county health officials.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.