GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — One of Michigan’s most populous counties issued an emergency order Tuesday, Aug. 24, requiring masks in daycares and all schools regardless of vaccination status to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The Oakland County Health Division said its order aligns with recent guidance from the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics to ensure children, teachers, and staff can begin the school year safely.

READ MORE: After 19 Months, Detroit Museum Welcoming School Field Trips

The order applies to all elementary, middle, high, and vocational schools in addition to daycares. It comes after Oakland County returned to an indoor mask requirement for all employees last week regardless of vaccination status.

“Our top priority is keeping students in school for in-person learning. Masking is one of the best defenses against increased transmission of COVID and higher hospitalization rates among kids,” Oakland County Executive Dave Coulter said.

READ MORE: Michigan Matters: Helping Young Folks & Cancer Patients

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have indicated Oakland County is a substantial risk of COVID-19 transmission, especially the Delta variant. Of the 2,740 new cases of COVID-19 in Oakland County from Aug. 4-17, more than one in six were among school-age children.

The order does not apply to children under age 4, those who are eating or drinking, and certain other people.

Oakland joins at least five other counties with similar school mask policies: Kent, Ottawa, Allegan, Kalamazoo, and Genesee. Some school districts elsewhere are acting on their own.

MORE NEWS: Meet These Two Bear Cubs Who Have Become Inseparable At The Detroit Zoo

© 2021 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.