Children and staff at child care centers and camps will have to wear masks while riding a bus or walking down a hallway, with more stringent requirements for older children, under an executive order issued by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday.
“Child-care workers have been on the front lines of this crisis and have worked tirelessly to provide a safe place for our children and families during this time,” Whitmer said in a news release.
“COVID-19 is still a very real threat to Michiganders of all ages, and we must continue to stay vigilant and use every tool at our disposal to protect ourselves and each other.”
The order takes effect Monday and applies to child care organizations along with “day, residential, travel and troop camps for children.” Child care centers in regions of the state in Phase 5 of the governor’s six-phase COVID-19 reopening plan – currently just the Upper Peninsula and parts of the northern Lower Peninsula – are exempt from the order, although still encouraged to require masks.


Previous mandates exempted some children and camps from the already broader mask requirements in place since July.
The order has different requirements for children of different ages, with more stringent mandates for children who are 12 or older. All children older than 2 must wear a mask on a bus or other similar transportation, while children 4 years old and up must wear a mask while in “indoor hallways and common areas.”


All staff and children 12 years old and up must wear a mask while “in classrooms, homes, cabins, or similar indoor settings.”
The order does not clarify why there is a distinction between common areas and classrooms.


A violation of the order is a misdemeanor. The order does not state how the requirements will be enforced.


The announcement comes as health officials are still learning about an outbreak at a youth camp
in Gladwin, already connected to 53 confirmed coronavirus cases.


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Masks already have been required for most people while inside in a public space or outside in a crowded public space. However, an order issued in July stated
that “neither child care centers nor day, residential, travel, or troop camps” were considered public spaces.


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The
new order specifically states masks must be worn by:


There are still exemptions to this order. They include:


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There are 53 confirmed coronavirus cases and another 13 probable cases connected with the Springs Ministries summer camp in Gladwin, Steve Hall, health officer for the Central Michigan District Health Department, recently told the Free Press. Of the 66 cases in all, 27 are campers and 27 are staff or camp counselors.


“Be a role model for your children and demonstrate the importance of wearing a mask,” Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, said in a news release.


“Have your child practice properly wearing a mask – over their nose, mouth and chin – while they are at home so they are comfortable with it in public.”
Children can and do spread coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. Federal policy makers and states are discussing how best to prevent the spread among children as parents and teachers weigh how to approach the upcoming school year.


On Thursday, Michigan reported 722 new coronavirus cases and 26 deaths.