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Marquette County Health Department rescinds mask order for PK-6 grades

The Marquette County Health Department will no longer require pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students to wear masks at school, effective Wednesday.
Published: Jan. 25, 2022 at 3:27 PM EST
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NEGAUNEE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - The Marquette County Health Department will no longer require pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade students to wear masks at school, effective Wednesday.

County Health Officer Jerry Messana’s order that was issued Sept. 20 will be rescinded, according to a notice on the Marquette County Health Department’s website.

In a phone interview with TV6, Messana said the intent of the mandate was to give unvaccinated children 5-11 the opportunity to get vaccinated. He says local providers currently have many unfilled appointments for kids’ vaccine doses. Messana says Marquette County’s vaccination rate for 5 to 11 year olds is about 32%, and this age group is not having most of the serious illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.

“The ones that are in the hospital are older, unvaccinated people,” Messana said.

Messana also says the arrival of Omicron and COVID vaccinations adjusted the metrics that should be used to gauge public health mitigation efforts. Instead of focusing on case numbers, the MDHHS has stated goals of preventing death and severe outcomes; protecting health care capacity; and keeping vital infrastructure functioning.

The September order said the requirement would be in effect until community transmission is categorized as moderate or low according to the CDC’s metrics for at least 14 consecutive days, or until further notice from the Marquette County Health Officer. Marquette County’s transmission rate remains high.

Messana says the Marquette County Health Department still strongly recommends masks in school settings and all public and crowded spaces.

Individual school districts can still make their own mask rules. Masks remain required on school buses across the United States, under a CDC order.

The order rescindment comes as Ishpeming and Gwinn schools are virtual this week because of sickness. Powell Township School has also canceled class this week.

The Marquette County Board of Health meets Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. at the Marquette County Courthouse.

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