Mask mandates end at Fenton High on Feb.16

Riann Masi, Online Editor

The week of Feb.7 was the last full week students and teachers were required to wear a mask in Fenton Area Public schools (FAPS). As of Feb.16, students were no longer required to wear a mask inside the building although masks are still required on buses. Even though the county is not under a mask mandate, the district can still continue optional mask wearing.

At the beginning of 2022, Michigan was classified as “Code Red” as hospitals were overwhelmed by Omicron patients. Infection rates continue to rise and with that some Michigan schools decided to continue requiring masks or went virtual.

“The [Fenton Area Public Schools (FAPS)] mask mandate was extended the first time because community spread was high,” Superintendent Dr. Adam Hartley said. “Many of our staff were testing positive, as well as testing and quarantining many students; it was tough finding substitutes during this time as well. Now a month later we have a total of four cases and zero staff members testing positive. Reviewing the country trends, it seems we are in a good position to move away from the mask mandate.” 

Hartleys decision on masks stems from a few different factors.

“My decisions regarding masks have come after meetings with the health department and legal counsel,” Hartley said, “and reviewing the current future trends of COVID-19, I have come to the decision of optional masks.” 

Although the mask mandate has been lifted, the district will still be administering COVID-19 tests before the school day at designated testing sites, as well as issuing quarantines to students who are contract-traced.

“With the mask mandate lifted, students will now be considered close-contact,” Hartley said. “Students that are not wearing their masks and are within six feet of a positive case will be contact-traced and quarantined.” 

If students test positive for COVID-19, they are to be isolated at home for five days. If no symptoms occur, students or staff can return to school but must wear a face covering. Lastly, students or staff should not return to school if they are feeling any symptoms or illness. 

Whether or not masks will continue to be optional at FAPSwill depend on if the cases and infection rate rise or stay the same in the state of Michigan, but as of now masks are optional for students and teachers at FAPS.