Governor Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap that outlines a number of safety protocols schools will need to follow before reopening in the Fall. On top of the roadmap, Whitmer also signed Executive Order 2020-142, which will provide a structure to support all Michigan schools as they plan for a return of PreK-12 education for the upcoming school year.
“Our students, parents, and educators have made incredible sacrifices during our battle with COVID-19,” said Governor 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 MI SafeSchools Return to School Roadmap will help provide schools with the guidance they need as they enact strict safety measures to continue protecting educators, students, and their families. I will continue working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and experts in epidemiology and public health to ensure we get this right, but we also need more flexibility and financial support from the federal government. 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.”
Executive Order 2020-142 requires that all school districts adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan that lays out how they will protect students and educators during the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. The roadmap released by Whitmer aims to act as a complement to this executive order by helping schools establish guidelines as to the types of safety protocols that will be required or recommended at each phase of reopening.
“The most important thing we can do as we prepare to reopen school buildings in the fall is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus,” added Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun. “I will continue to work closely with Governor Whitmer and the Return to Learn Advisory Council to ensure we continue to put the health and safety of our students and educators first. We will remain nimble to protect students, educators, and their families.”
As such protocols will be costly to districts, Governor Whitmer also announced she was allocating $256 million to support the districts as they work to implement their local plans. The allocation of funds comes as part of a bipartisan budget agreement that Senate Majority Leader Shirkey, Speaker of the House Chatfield, and the governor announced on Monday.
As the state moves toward reopening schools, the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council, which is made up of 25 leaders in health care and education, will work with the Governor to safely implement the roadmap. The council is chaired by Tonya Allen and includes public health experts, a pediatrician, educators, school administrators, school board members, community leaders, parents and students.
“All of us on the Return to Learn Advisory Council share a commitment to marrying science and evidence, and practicality and local needs to ensure the health and safety of our students and educators,” shared Tonya Allen, President and CEO of The Skillman Foundation and Chair of the Return to Learn Advisory Council. “We are proud to have a leader in the governor’s office who is committed to working with parents, teachers, and students to make sure we get this right. We will remain vigilant and flexible, helping ensure safety protocols are in place in every Michigan school.”
Some of the protocols schools will be urged to follow in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap include guidance on the use of PPE, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics and more. Read the complete plan from Governer Whitmer, here.