Advisory council discusses challenging decision-making process with back to school roadmap
(06/30/20) - Members of the Return to School Advisory Council offered some insight into the comprehensive 63-page
when the governor rolled out the plan Tuesday.
Paula Herbart, president of the largest school employee union, said the council was united in two key areas.
The first is their dedication to protecting the health and well being of students and employees and the second is the importance of returning to in-person learning. She remarked it is better for students academically, physically and emotionally.
"The expertise of Michigan educators must be part of any successful return to in-person learning this fall," said Herbart, President of the Michigan Education Association.
Rochester Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Robert Shaner says serving on this council was one of the most challenging things he's done in 35 years of public service.
"From transportation to food service to classroom instruction, maintenance and custodial operations to serving special populations, the high degree of complexity that the current environment presents is extensive," Shaner said.
Governor Whitmer signed an executive order that requires schools to adopt a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan that is aligned with the Michigan Safe Start Plan.
"Every school district must develop three plans -- a phase three plan that is fully remote, a phase four plan with a very strict and required protocols and phase five plan with more relaxed protocols and additional flexibility" Whitmer said.
Under phases one through three of the Safe Start plan there is no in-person instruction. Under phases four, five and six, in-person instruction is allowed, but there are some variations with what's required and recommended.
"It [the roadmap] recognizes that there is no one size fits all solution, and it retains flexibility for local districts to manage according to their particular needs and conditions," said Tonya Allen, Skillman Foundation President/CEO and Chairperson of Return to School Advisory Council.
The document offers guidance on PPE, hygiene, cleanliness, spacing and more.
The governor says she allocated $256 million in the bipartisan budget agreement announced Monday to help schools implement their plans, but those plans could quickly change with the spread of COVID-19.
"If we see a sustained spike," Whitmer explained. "That's precisely what would take us back to a phase three."
The governor also wants parents to read the roadmap and to provide feedback to their local school board. You can find the roadmap