Despite Washtenaw County Decision, AAPS Mask Mandate Remains

Written and reported on February 11

The Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) announced Friday, February 11th that it will lift its mask mandate on February 28th. It will also lift its isolation and quarantine mandate. However, Jeanice Swift, Ann Arbor Public Schools superintendent, responded in an email Friday evening indicating that universal masking protocols and other health measures will remain in AAPS schools. 

The AAPS will maintain all existing health and safety protocols, including universal masking, for AAPS schools, programs, and offices until further notice,” Swift said in her email to families. “We will continue to update our students, staff, families and community as we move through this process together.” 

Although they are lifting the Emergency Order mandate, WCHD still strongly recommends masking. “Washtenaw County Health Department continues to strongly recommend wearing a high-quality, well-fitted mask in public indoor settings, including schools,” the announcement said. 

Both announcements also referenced the position of other public health authorities. “Masking indoors and in crowded settings continues to be recommended by the CDC, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and other health authorities and is required on public transportation, including school buses,” Swift reiterated in her email.  

“We will continue to closely monitor the number of cases in our schools as well as the level of transmission in the community as we consider next steps,” Swift continued. The district is awaiting updated protocol guidance WCHD will provide on February 23rd, at which time the district will analyze how this may impact AAPS COVID protocols. 

Swift also included a reminder that the AAPS masking policy was announced on July 30th, prior to the WCHD Emergency Order issued last fall. AAPS masking policy is not contingent or connected to the Emergency Order being lifted.  

“We will continue to hold the health and safety of our students and staff as our top priority,” Swift said. “We are charged with the responsibility of supporting our students with healthy in-school learning environments each day and will take very seriously any proposed removal of a critical layer of COVID mitigation and protection for our students, staff and families.”