Teachers want Michigan’s 3-week pause for in-person learning extended to lower grades

High schools, colleges and universities have been ordered to halt in-person instruction temporarily
Michigan Center Schools are getting ready for in-person classes
Michigan Center Schools are getting ready for in-person classes(WILX)
Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 5:36 PM EST
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - While the State of Michigan is being sued by an association representing restaurants and hotels for stricter coronavirus measures that temporarily prohibit indoor dining, another association representing Michigan educators believes the new order doesn’t go far enough to protect teachers and students.

“We have members who have been forced to go back in the school buildings teaching virtually who have contracted COVID because they have had to go back and forth from their home to their school when they could have taught in their home," said Paula Herbart, President of the Michigan Education Association.

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) conducted a new survey, which unveiled how its members really feel about the current learning predicament.

MEA found that 84-percent of educators are concerned about the safety of returning to full in-person learning come January as some school districts are preparing to do. Meanwhile, 74-percent would like to keep a full virtual or hybrid model.

Ninety-one percent of educators say they’ve observed employees wearing a face covering most or all of the time. Seventy-eight percent say they’ve observed students wearing a mask, but when it comes to social distancing, only 18-percent of educators say students are staying 6 feet a part.

“We need to make sure that we are listening to our educators who say physical and social distancing isn’t working in the schools right now," Herbart said.

The new order pauses in person instruction for high schools, community colleges and universities for three weeks, and it goes into effect Wednesday. Case transmission rates are increasing in higher grades and higher education compared to lower grades, but the association, representing 120,000 educators, wants to see the same level of precaution taken for pre-K through 8th grade.

“We just don’t think it goes far enough. We want our students safe and we want our members safe and we want our communities safe,” Herbart said. “We need to reassess in three weeks. See if we can get the numbers down. She’s taking a hard line on bowling alleys and restaurants. In order for us to get back to school -- remember -- educators want to be in school. They understand that that is the superior model of learning.”

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