HEALTH DEPARTMENT: No Change in School Mask Policies Despite Budget Signing

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the $70 billion budget bill even though it provisions that restricted state and local authority to enact measures fighting the spread of COVID-19.

In a letter to Michigan lawmakers, Whitmer said the budget can not be used to threaten the funding of local authorities that enact rules on wearing masks.

"The legislature cannot unwind the Public Health Code in a budget bill or un-appropriate funds because they take issue with the actions of local health departments," Whitmer wrote.

The Washtenaw County Health Department, which requires students and staff to wear masks during times of high transmission of SARS-CoV-2, said the local public health emergency orders for educational settings remain in tact.

The health department released the following statement:

The Washtenaw County Health Department remains committed to protecting the public health. The Michigan Public Health Code, MCL 333.2451 and MCL 333.2453, as well as State Administrative Rule R325.175(4), promulgated by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pursuant to MCL 333.2226(d), authorize local health departments to issue orders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Health Department issued its Isolation and Quarantine Order in Educational Settings (dated 9/2/21, updated 9/15/21) and its Wearing of Masks in Educational Settings Within Washtenaw County (dated 9/2/21) pursuant to this statutory and regulatory authority. While the recently enacted state budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 contains language addressing the effect that an emergency order may have on appropriated funds, the Health Department retains the authority to issue and enforce its emergency orders. Accordingly, the Isolation and Quarantine Order in Educational Settings (dated 9/2/21, updated 9/15/21) and its Wearing of Masks in Educational Settings Within Washtenaw County (dated 9/2/21) remain in effect in accordance with the provisions of those orders.

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