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Kent and Ottawa Counties issue public health orders requiring face masks in Pre-Kindergarten through 6th Grade classrooms


. WGVU’s Patrick Center has the story.

Kent and Ottawa County PreK-6th grade students returning to the classroom for the start of the new school year will be required to wear a face covering in educational settings.

County health departments have been tracking the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases from the highly contagious delta variant. The transmission risk level was elevated from “substantial” to “high” this week.

“We believe that now is the time, considering that school starts next week, that we had to make this order.”

Dr. Adam London is Administrative Health Officer at the Kent County Health Department. He explains that with an unvaccinated population, students under the age of 12 ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines, it was time to act.

“I don’t know, it’s impossible to predict what number of kids might die or might be permanently damaged by COVID-19 if we did nothing, but whatever that number is it’s too high. Especially when the cost of preventing it is something as simple as wearing a facial covering.”

The order issued jointly by the Kent County Health Department and Ottawa County Department of Public Health reduces virus transmission in schools and the broader community and minimizes the interruption of in-person learning.

Patrick joined WGVU Public Media in December, 2008 after eight years of investigative reporting at Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV8 and three years at WYTV News Channel 33 in Youngstown, Ohio. As News and Public Affairs Director, Patrick manages our daily radio news operation and public interest television programming. An award-winning reporter, Patrick has won multiple Michigan Associated Press Best Reporter/Anchor awards and is a three-time Academy of Television Arts & Sciences EMMY Award winner with 14 nominations.