Whitmer releases plan to reopen K-12 schools this fall

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a recent study by the Imperial College in the U.K. shows that...
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a recent study by the Imperial College in the U.K. shows that Michigan's coronavirus response worked. (WJRT)
Published: Jun. 30, 2020 at 3:12 PM EDT
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(6/30/2020) - Schools have a plan for reopening to in-person classes this fall and some support from the state.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released her MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap on Tuesday outlining recommendations and requirements for educators to keep everyone safe from coronavirus.

She issued an order Tuesday requiring all school districts to adopt a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan for protecting students and staff from coronavirus under various stages of the six-part MI Safe Start plan.

Schools closed on March 16 when coronavirus started spreading in widely in Michigan. Whitmer will allow them to reopen if the state is in Phase 4 or 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan.

Each school will need a plan for completely remote classes if Michigan is in Phase 3 of the MI Safe Start plan, a strict health and cleaning plan for Phase 4 and reduced restrictions for Phase 5.

The plans all include varying requirements for staff and students to wear face masks or coverings depending on what phase their region is in. Under Phase 4, students in grades six through 12 would have to wear a mask all day.

The plans will include:

-- Guidance on the use of PPE.

-- Proper hygiene.

-- Cleaning and disinfecting protocols.

-- Spacing and social distancing in classrooms.

-- Screening for symptoms.

-- Considerations for athletics.

Whitmer and the Republican-led Michigan Legislature agreed to spend $256 million to help schools implement the changes necessary to protect from coronavirus. She is asking Congress to pass more funding to help schools deal with the pandemic.

“Our students, parents, and educators have made incredible sacrifices during our battle with COVID-19,” said Whitmer. “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."

The Michigan Return to Learn Advisory Council is continuing to work on plans for schools.

"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 said.