By Jessica Mathews /

Schools across the state are being urged to delay events or make them virtual as COVID-19 cases spike.

Michigan’s health and education departments are urging schools to postpone or make virtual large gatherings, including sporting events, if they are not “essential”. The recommendation is intended to keep schools open when classes resume after the winter break next week. It was included in a letter to K-12 superintendents and charter school directors. Large events involve at least 100 people and include athletic competitions, concerts and meetings.

Officials cite an expected rise in infections caused by the highly contagious omicron variant and say it’s important for all schools to review their planned activities for events and gatherings.

The CDC and MDHHS strongly recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students and visitors age 2 and older, regardless of vaccination status. The state also recommends regular testing in all school settings. Schools can also participate in the MI Backpack Program, which offers free at-home COVID-19 tests to students, their families, teachers, and school staff.

In Livingston County, the Health Department has not issued any mask mandates and opted to instead leave the decision up to local school districts.

The letter to superintendents is attached.