LANSING, Mich. – As the state’s recommended deadline nears for all Michigan school districts to return to as much in-person learning as possible, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer spoke about the COVID-19 safety guidelines that will be in place.
Michigan wants all schools to offer in-person learning options by March 1, and
“As of today, 83% of school districts are currently back in person, according to a report from our research partners at EPIC, and 97% of school districts will be back in-person in one way or another by March 1,” Whitmer said.
After talking about all the reasons she believes a return to in-person learning is the right move, Whitmer described some of the measures schools should have in place to prevent the spread of COVID.
3 pillars of public health
Whitmer described the first three safety measures as the “three pillars of public health.” They are universal masking, social distancing and hand hygiene.
“Face masks must be worn indoors by all staff and students (age) 5 and up, except for meals and other limited circumstances,” Whitmer said. “Classrooms should be adjusted and arranged to space students out to follow social distancing protocols.”
In addition to separating desks, school districts are encouraged to use all of their available space, including gyms, cafeterias and multi-purpose rooms to return to in-person learning.
Schools should provide students and staff members with soap, paper towels, tissues, signage to reinforce hand washing and hand sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol, Whitmer said.
Other safety guidelines
There are six other safety guidelines Whitmer described, though it’s not clear if they are requirements or recommendations.
- Designate a staff person to be the point for responding to COVID-19 concerns.
- Implement a cohort model, dividing teachers and students into distinct groups that stay together throughout the entire day.
- Maintain air flow. -- Open windows, use fans and change air filters more often.
- Upgrade heating and cooling systems.
- Secure the water supply. Steps must be taken after a long shutdown to minimize the risk of lead or copper exposure.
- Adhere to testing, screening and quarantining criteria. Anyone who tests positive, exhibits symptoms or has been exposed to someone who tests positive should follow guidance set forth by health officials.