Whitmer discusses her return to school plan a day before formal announcement

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer(WJRT)
Published: Jun. 29, 2020 at 6:37 PM EDT
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(6/29/2020) - As COVID-19 case numbers rise in communities across Michigan, big questions remain about what will school look like in the fall.

Parents want to know if students will be back in the classroom. Teachers want to know if there will be enough funding to pay them. Everyone wants to know whether it will be safe.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to outline her recommendations and requirements for the upcoming school year at 3 p.m. Tuesday. She discussed parts of her plan with ABC12 on Monday.

"So that is this important task of getting our kids back into in-person instruction is done, as smart as we can to keep our kids safe, but not just for kids say for educators sake and for all of their families safe," Whitmer said.

She established a task force made up of educators, community leaders and scientists to create a plan to do just that: Bring kids back to school in the fall.

"It'll also have to look like, what phase we are in and the my safe start plan," Whitmer said. "And that can be fluid depending on what our COVID-19 numbers."

The target continues to move every day with new cases being reported. Aside from health concerns, there's an unprecedented budget shortage as well.

"I want to make sure that our school boards or administration or teachers have the kind of support they need to do," Whitmer said. "The most important job of getting our kids on track."

Whitmer told ABC12 News that Tuesday's report will include recommendations and requirements.

One idea being floated is smaller class sizes to allow for social distancing. But with budgets in flux due to coronavirus, that will be a challenge. Whitmer is hoping the federal government will come through.

"Well, what we know is that every state in the nation is grappling with the same budget issues that we are. That's why the nation's governors both sides of the aisle are really trying to push on Washington to get this fourth supplemental done," she said.

A $3 trillion spending package passed the U.S. House, but the U.S. Senate has not acted on it. So the bill has not gone to President Donald Trump's desk for his signature.

Whitmer's plan will be in contrast to a proposal laid out by Michigan Republicans last week modeled after the recommendations made by a school-choice advocacy group founded by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.