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Schools looking at safety precautions to reopen

Posted at 4:47 PM, Jun 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-18 05:44:57-04

LANSING, MI (WILX) - — Governor Gretchen Whitmer says schools will be able to resume in-person classes this fall.

She created the Return to School Advisory Council which is made up of 25 teachers, parents and public health experts. They'll be the ones creating guidelines for schools based on the governor's Safe Start plan.

The governor says the guidelines could vary county to county based on school districts' abilities.

"We've got over 800 school districts in Michigan. Each has unique challenges. Each has unique resources," said Governor Whitmer.

She mentioned one option is to reduce class sizes to encourage social distancing. It's an idea that concerns some local leaders.

"You may be able to get nine or ten kids in the entire room. That's something that would create a problem. Same type of thing with busing. Same with the cafeteria," said Geoff Bontrager, superintendent of Northwest Community Schools.

"To have smaller class sizes, you need more staff, and to have more staff, you need more funding so that's a real catch 22 for us right now," said John Deiter, superintendent of DeWitt Public Schools.

Waverly Community Schools opened its day care this week with safety measures in place.

"The approach we've taken there, things like parents are not coming in to our school building just yet. Lots of hand washing and teaching students the correct way to do that," said Dr. Lara Slee, director of teaching and learning with Waverly Community Schools.

Some districts are considering things like having lunch in classrooms and putting plexiglass dividers on desks.

In the meantime, school leaders are waiting on more instructions from the state.

Fox 47 will keep you updated as the state and individual school districts release their reopening plans.