St. Clair County Health Department issues K-12 mask order

The St. Clair County Health Department issued a public order Wednesday requiring masks be worn in K-12 education settings starting next week.

According to a news release late Wednesday afternoon, the order will run from Monday, Jan. 3, through Friday, Jan. 28. Dr. Annette Mercatante, the county’s medical health officer, cited the threat of the omicron variant on top of the existing high-case rate in the area in issuing the mask order.

“It is prudent to take pre-emptive action now to ensure in-person learning continues within our schools,” Mercatante said in a statement. “We understand how difficult virtual schooling has been on both students and parents throughout the pandemic, which is why we are putting mitigation strategies in place to reduce the impact.

“It is clear that strong recommendations are not adequate to compel the level of compliance needed to mitigate the spread of this virus, which is why a temporary order is needed until the full impacts of Omicron are clarified.”