Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reveals plan for schools to return to in-person learning this fall

Whitmer introduces 'MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap'


LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer revealed her plan to help schools across the state return to in-person learning this fall.

READ: Whitmer announces Michigan will not move to phase 5 of reopening plan before July 4 weekend

The “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap” is a 63-page document that outlines coronavirus (COVID-19) safety protocols for each phase of Whitmer’s reopening plan.

“Our students, parents and educators have made incredible sacrifices during our battle with COVID-19,” Whitmer said. “Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, the teachers who have found creative ways to reach their students, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall.”

Whitmer’s plan outlines ways for schools to protect teachers, students and everyone involved in returning to in-person learning.

The safety protocols detailed in the roadmap include guidance on the use of personal protective equipment, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics and more.

“I will continue working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and experts in epidemiology and public health to ensure we get this right, but we also need more flexibility and financial support from the federal government,” Whitmer said. “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.”

Whitmer also signed Executive Order 2020-142, providing a structure to support all Michigan schools as they plan for a return to pre-K to 12th grade education.

“The most important thing we can do as we prepare to reopen school buildings in the fall 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. “I will continue to work closely with Gov. Whitmer and the Return to Learn Advisory Council to ensure we continue to put the health and safety of our students and educators first. We will remain nimble to protect students, educators, and their families.”

EO 2020-142 requires each school district to adopt a COVID-19 plan that lays out how it will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.

Whitmer said she is allocating $256 million to support the districts in implementing their local plans as part of the bipartisan budget agreement the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House and the governor announced Monday.

The Roadmap also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students’ and educators’ metal health, and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue.

You can view the full roadmap below.

“All of us on the Return to Learn Advisory Council share a commitment to marrying science and evidence, and practicality and local needs to ensure 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 are proud to have a leader in the governor’s office who is committed to working with parents, teachers, and students to make sure we get this right. We will remain vigilant and flexible, helping ensure safety protocols are in place in every Michigan school.”

“The governor’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap is a thoughtful, comprehensive plan that puts the health and safety of our students and educators first, balancing this priority with the importance of in-school education,” said David Hecker, President of AFT Michigan. “Our teachers and support staff are eager and ready to implement safety measures in our schools to ensure everyone who steps foot in them is protected from the spread of COVID-19. I applaud the governor’s leadership and unwavering commitment to our students during this time, and look forward to working closely with her as we continue to protect Michiganders from this virus.”

Michigan coronavirus cases

Whitmer lifted her months-long stay-at-home order June 1 and moved the remaining six regions to phase four of her reopening plan. Over the next three weeks, no single day brought more than 304 new confirmed cases, as Michigan was one of the top states in the nation in terms of flattening the curve.

But the tide started to turn June 24, when Michigan went from a spike of 221 new cases the previous day to 323 new cases -- the highest of the month. The next two days each set new monthly highs, and there have been five total days of more than 300 new cases in the last week.

Tuesday marked Michigan’s second-highest daily increase of June, with 373 new confirmed cases. The only greater single-day total was Friday (June 26), when officials confirmed 389 new cases.

More coverage

Here’s much more coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic from throughout the month of June.

Whitmer’s handling of pandemic:

Reopening Michigan:

Health questions, advice:


Personal stories:


About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.