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Whitmer says schools may reopen in the fall, explains next steps

While schools may open, they will have to follow strict health and safety measures.

LANSING, Mich — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Wednesday that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning under phase four of the MI Safe Start plan.

While schools may open, they will have to follow strict health and safety measures.

Whitmer plans to release an executive order on June 30, along with a detailed document called “Michigan’s Return to School Roadmap.” This document will include recommendations and requirements for schools across the state.

“Our students and educators have made incredible sacrifices these past few months to protect themselves and their families from the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, those who have done their part to flatten the curve, and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall.”

Whitmer said she is working closely with the Return to Learn Advisory Council and health care leaders to ensure students and teachers stay safe throughout the reopening of schools. She is also asking for more flexibility and support from the federal government.

"We know it will take additional resources to safely reopen schools," said Godfrey-Lee Superintendent Kevin Polston, who is also a member of the council, "A successful plan to reopen schools requires financial stability of our districts to serve each student, including our most vulnerable populations."

RELATED: Whitmer creates group tasked with helping schools safely reopen this fall

Whitmer also said preserving every dollar possible for K-12 schools her top priority.

“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.

The Return to School plan will align with the MI Safe Start Plan. Whitmer will consider the six phases of reopening, along with the Michigan Economic Recover Council’s eight regions of the state to determine where, when and how in-person instruction can resume.

“The most important thing we can do when developing a return to school plan is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus,” said MDHHS 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.”

While the schools may reopen in the fall, Whitmer said it’s important that districts, students, staff and families stay flexible and prepared for changes. If evidence of community spread of the virus does transpire, schools may need to take a step backwards, away from in-person teaching.

On June 30, Whitmer will release the Return to School Roadmap. This will set minimum health and safety requirements for schools state-wide, including traditional public, charter, private and parochial schools.

All schools will have to follow these minimum requirements, but each district may enact more aggressive ones in consultation with local public health officials.

Watch the full press conference here.

Whitmer to give COVID-19 update

Watch Live: Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will provide an update regarding the state’s response efforts to COVID-19 at 11 a.m.

Posted by 13 On Your Side on Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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