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Grand Rapids Public Schools orders universal mask mandate for students, staff and visitors this fall

Students wear masks at a school in Baghdad.
Students wear masks at a school in Baghdad.

With surging new cases of COVID-19 spreading across West Michigan, Grand Rapids Public Schools announced Monday a universal mask mandate this fall.

The order applies to all K-12 students, staff and visitors indoors in all district schools and buildings regardless of age or vaccination status, that's according to a press release issued by Grand Rapids Public Schools Monday afternoon.

The order comes less than a week after the district said it would only strongly recommend, but not require students to wear masks this fall, leaving that decision to parents and staff.

However, after the Kent County Health Department issued another warning about the surge of COVID-19 with the Delta variant, and reiterated their strong recommendation for masks to be worn in schools, GRPS Superintendent Leadrine Roby says the district made the tough decision to require that teachers and kids mask up this fall….

"As much as we all have opinions about where we should be in this pandemic, and masks and vaccinations, and everything else," Roby said, "this is about children's safety."

This new indoor universal masking requirement starts on Tuesday, August 17 and districts will be revisited on or before September 20th. Exceptions will be made for students and staff with medical conditions that impede their ability to wear a mask.

Meanwhile, Forest Hills Public Schools Monday also issued a mandate, that requires masks for all students in grades PreK through 6 and any other unvaccinated people regardless of age or grade while inside school buildings.

On Friday, hundreds of anti-mask demonstrators protested outside of the Kent County Health Department, demanding that school districts leave the decision to parents.

I’m Daniel Boothe.

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