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Area schools no longer require masks

By Judy Reed

Now that the Kent County Health Department public health order requiring masks for PreK-6th grade students has expired, parents at both Cedar Springs Public Schools and Creative Technologies Academy can make their own choice on whether their students should mask up while at school.

“Face masks will no longer be required for students or staff in any of our buildings when we return to school on January 3, 2022,” said Cedar Springs Superintendent Scott Smith, in an email that went out to parents last week. 

He did note, however, that the mask requirement from the Transportation Security Administration that says masks must be worn on public transportation, including school buses, remains in effect until March 18.

Autumn Mattson, School Leader/Superintendent at Creative Technologies, said much the same thing. “We are not requiring masks and have returned to our original COVID safety protocols that were board approved back in August of 2021.”

The Post asked Smith what kind of feedback he’s gotten from parents, students, and staff now that they have reverted back to their original plan from the beginning of the year.

“Like all decisions related to the pandemic, some have responded favorably, and others have expressed frustration about the decision,” he said.

He also said that the Board of Education would have to take action to require students to wear face masks.

So if Cedar Springs is not requiring face masks, what kind of mitigation strategies are they using to help keep students from spreading germs or being infected with COVID-19?

“Cedar Springs Public Schools remains committed to providing parents and legal guardians with as much leeway as possible when making decisions for their student(s) regarding facial coverings, COVID-19 testing, and vaccinations in the absence of any public health orders or MHSAA rules for student athletes,” Smith said in his email to parents. “The Center for Disease Control (CDC), Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), the KCHD, and health care experts from Spectrum Health and University of Michigan Health West (Metro) continue to strongly recommend that all individuals wear masks while indoors.

“We will continue to work with public health officials and make the necessary adjustments to our policies and procedures based on CDC, MDHHS, KCHD, and local health expert guidance or requirements to keep our students, staff, and families safe. Additionally, we will continue to promote physical distancing, hand washing, enhanced cleaning protocols, increased ventilation, and other general mitigation protocols to reduce the risk of viral transmission in our classrooms.  Recognizing the ongoing fluid nature of the pandemic, we will remain flexible and ready to adapt to situations as they evolve.” 

Smith said a handful of districts in Kent County are requiring masks, but most are not. “The majority of districts are making masks optional in indoor settings for students, staff, and guests,” he explained.

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