For the past two years COVID-19 has ravaged the globe, with the U.S setting terrible records at over 80 million cases and almost 1 million deaths. When the U.S came out from lockdown in 2021, a new piece of apparel was added to the ever-growing closets of GRPS students: the mask. Masks became mandated in schools, transportation, the corner store, you name it. Everyday life was filled with masked faces and talk of another COVID variant. Well now, after two years of this pandemic, starting on Monday, February 28th, the mask mandate will be lifted from GRPS schools. According to Dr. London of the Kent county health department, over the past couple of weeks the Omicron variant of COVID has diminished significantly compared to its previous surge. As of last week, the positivity rate was at 15% and dropping rapidly, according to a direct quote from Dr. London that was brought up at the GRPS Board of Education meeting on February 21st, 2022.
On Friday February 18th, 2022, the Kent county health department lifted it’s last health order relating to COVID, announcing that the state is now in a “post-surge recovery stage.” However, the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing and it is important to still take precautions. In the GRPS communications email sent to GRPS students and parents, the new guidelines are as follows:
- “Starting on Monday, February 28, 2022, students, staff, and visitors are no longer mandated to wear masks in schools and district buildings. In accordance with CDC, MDHHS, and KCHD guidance, masks are strongly recommended, but not required.
- Masks are still mandatory on all public transportation and school buses based on the CDC order from January 29, 2021.
- To control the spread of communicable diseases, the Michigan Public Health Code requires individuals who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate for 5 days. Individuals may return on day 6, and wearing a mask is strongly recommended for days 6-10.
- Staff and families must continue reporting when there is a positive COVID-19 test.
- Kent County Health Department is no longer requiring contact tracing. In accordance with Public Health Code, we will continue reporting positive cases to the Kent County Health Department on a weekly basis.
- Household close contacts are no longer required to quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. The KCHD is recommending a 10-day quarantine for unvaccinated household contacts.”
As written in the communications email, COVID will continue to stay with us, infecting people and costing lives, much like the common cold or flu. This does not mean that COVID is gone completely and that we shouldn’t worry about it. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy, and stay mindful.