LANSING, Mich. — Governor Gretchen Whitmer wants schools to resume at least some in-person learning by early March. As schools across Michigan gear up to re-open, some Lansing-area teachers and parents parents have concerns.
“I’m not fully comfortable with the push to send them back,” said Effie Alofoje-Carr, whose second grade son has been virtually learning since the pandemic hit last March.
Alofoje-Carr says there are “ups and downs” to remote learning, but she still feels it’s the safer option for her son until vaccines are more widely available.
Teachers share that concern.
“A number of our members are older and have pre-existing health conditions,” said Michigan Education Association spokesperson David Crim. “Many of them have parents or older relatives who live with them that would be exposed to risk if they went back into the classroom at this point.”
East Lansing schools gave families the choice to continue remote learning or to send their children back for in-person instruction later this month. Roughly 60 percent of elementary students will return to classrooms along with about 50 percent of middle and high school students
East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko says safety is her main concern ahead of students returning to the classroom and that there will be mandatory mask wearing, social distancing, desk partitions and temperature screenings for both students and staff.
While the standard COVID-19 precautions are essential to reopening schools, Leyko said teachers getting vaccinated was crucial.
In an internal survey conducted this week, about 90% of East Lansing Public Schools teachers who responded said they’d either already gotten both doses of the vaccine or were waiting to receive their second one.
East Lansing parents will have another chance to send their children back to school after spring break in April. Leyko says flexibility is a major component of East Lansing’s reopening strategy.
“We recognize some families have situations at home where it’s easier for them to keep their children home and other families don’t have that opportunity,” she said. “We respect all the situations, so that’s why we’re continuing to offer remote learning for the remainder of this year.”
Lansing Public School District spokesman Bob Kolt said Lansing has not yet met the infection percentages that would allow its schools to reopen. Kolt said the Lansing Board of Education will meet next week to discuss plans to resume face to face learning.
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