LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced plans for an outline that will allow schools across the state to reopen for in-person learning this fall.
Whitmer said Michigan schools will be allowed to resume in-person learning within phase four of her reopening plan. The process will include strict safety measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).
She will release a “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap” on June 30 to outline requirements, guidelines and recommendations for schools.
“Our students and educators have made incredible sacrifices these past few months to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, those who have done their part to flatten the curve, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall.”
“The most important thing we can do when developing a return to school plan is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus,” said MDHHS Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun.
Whitmer said the Return to School plan will align closely with her MI Safe Start Plan.
Her office said she will consider the six phases of the MI Safe Start Plan and the Michigan Economic Recovery Council’s eight regions to determine when, where and how face-to-face instruction can resume.
Districts, students, staff members and families will have to be willing to move backwards if there’s another COVID-19 spike, Whitmer said.
“Schools must make sure to enact strict safety measures to continue protecting educators, students and their families,” Whitmer said. “I will continue working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and leaders in health care to ensure we get this right, but we also need more flexibility and support from the federal government. This crisis has had serious implications on our budget, and we need federal support if we’re going to get this right for our kids.”
“This is a big step, and we will remain flexible to protect everyone who steps foot in a Michigan school,” Khaldun said.
The plan will set minimum health and safety requirements, but districts can choose to implement stricter policies. The minimum requirements will apply to all schools, including traditional public, charter, private and parochial schools, Whitmer said.
“Our number one goal on this advisory council is the health and safety of our students and educators,” said Tonya Allen, President and CEO of the Skillman Foundation and Chair of the Return to Learn Advisory Council. “We will remain vigilant and flexible and closely examine the data as we continue to make recommendations to the governor. This is a crisis unlike any we’ve seen before, and we are committed working closely together to ensure we get this right.”
Whitmer created the COVID-19 Return to School Advisory Council with executive order 2020-88 on May 15. It is designed to identify critical issues that have to be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school and to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school. The Council will make recommendations regarding K-12 students returning to school in the fall.
On June 3, the governor announced a group of 25 leaders in health care and education to serve on the COVID-19 return to learn advisory council. The council is chaired by Allen and includes community members, educators, parents and students who will work closely with the governor as she continues to put the health and safety of our students and educators first.