LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is encouraging all K-12 schools in Michigan to offer in-person classes by March 1.
"The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable, and we must do everything we can to help our kids get the great education they need and to do so safely," said Gov. Whitmer at a press conference on Friday.
In light of the announcement, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is offering new COVID safety guidelines for schools that emphasize wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing and social distancing.
The MDHHS notes that "masks should be worn inside schools by all staff and students, except during meals and in other limited circumstances."
Additional safety guidance:
- When feasible, assigning children to cohort groups and limiting their interactions to their cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.
- Keeping children 6 feet apart from one another to the extent feasible, making creative use of school spaces to facilitate distancing.
- Providing adequate hand sanitizing supplies and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques.
- Improving air ventilation.
- Having staff and students conduct self-screenings for symptoms at home every day before going to school.
- Ensuring school plans are in place in coordination with their local health department if there are any positive COVID-19 tests.
- Having staff and students who either test positive or are close contacts of those who test positive follow the guidance issued by MDHHS [lnks.gd] as well as local health departments. Anyone who is considered a close contact of someone who tests positive but does not have symptoms should quarantine for 10 days under CDC guidance.
More safety guidelines for schools can be found here.
Teachers are expected to start getting the COVID-19 vaccine next week, after an announcement from the governor's office on Wednesday.
Whitmer will not ask schools to require in-person classes, and her emergency powers were curbed by a court ruling last year, but she does want schools to offer in-person classes.
In an announcement in November, Whitmer had halted in-person learning at Michigan high schools and colleges, but they were allowed to resume in-person classes when schools came back from break on Jan. 4.