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Northeast Michigan school district to require masks after starting year with no mandate

Alpena Public Schools
Alpena Public Schools will require masks starting Tuesday, in a reversal of its policy at the beginning of the school year.

A Northeast Michigan school district has reversed course on masks. After starting the school year with no mask mandate, Alpena Public Schools will now require them starting Tuesday.

The district said the goal of masks is to reduce the number of students who have to miss school because of illness or exposure to sick classmates.

School officials said universal masking brings the best chance of keeping classes in person for the rest of the year.

Student absences have been increasing in Alpena, and six elementary classrooms had to switch to remote learning in the last two weeks.

The district’s policy does leave exemptions to the mask requirement for people with documented medical reasons and some students with individualized education plans.

Michigan has left the decision about mask requirements up to local school districts, resulting in a patchwork of shifting policies across the state.

At least two Upper Peninsula health departments — Dickinson-Iron and Marquette County — have also begun requiring masks in educational settings in the last week.