Michigan health officials offer plan to reopen all schools by March 1
LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services provided a plan Friday that would allow schools to offer an in-person learning option for all students by March 1 -- or earlier if possible.
The plan is based on scientifically proven methods like wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing and social distancing. It also includes COVID-19 vaccinations available to teachers beginning on Monday.
The March 1 goal is not a requirement for schools to follow and families will be allowed to continue remote or virtual learning if they choose.
Schools in Michigan are allowed to offer in-person learning now, but many local districts are using remote or hybrid models to prevent COVID-19 spread. High schools were required to close for in-person learning from Nov. 18 to Dec. 21.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon said in-person learning is critical for students, especially young children and at-risk students.
“We encourage schools to reopen as soon as they can do so with proven protections for staff and students,” Gordon said.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said medical experts and epidemiologists believe COVID-19 risk in schools can be prevented by following basic health and safety protocols.
“I strongly encourage districts to provide as much face-to-face learning as possible, and my administration will work closely with them to get it done,” she said.
State health officials say all students and staff should wear face coverings inside schools, except during meal times or other limited circumstances. They include surgical style masks or homemade cloth masks.
Other COVID-19 prevention measures for schools include:
- Assigning students to small groups and keep them around the same classmates.
- Make creative use of classroom space to provide 6 feet of social distancing.
- Providing adequate hand sanitizing supplies and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques.
- Improving air ventilation.
- Screen all students and staff for COVID-19 symptoms every morning.
- Establish plans with local health departments for how to handle positive COVID-19 tests.
- Require staff and students to follow contact tracing guidelines.
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