Governor, health officials encourage return to in-person learning by March in Michigan

During her press conference Friday afternoon, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced state health officials are recommending school districts return to in-person learning by March 1 or sooner.

Vaccinations for teachers and other school staff will begin by January 11, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said.

“MDHHS will continue to do what it takes to save lives and limit the spread of COVID-19,” said Director Robert Gordon. “At the same time, in-person instruction is critical for the current and the future well-being of children, especially young learners and students who are disadvantaged. We encourage schools to reopen as soon as they can do so with proven protections for staff and students.”

“The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable, and we must do everything we can to help them get a great education safely,” said Gov. Whitmer. “

Guidance is for grades pre-kindergarten through 12 and includes early childhood education, such as Head Start and Great Start Readiness Program.

The guidance outlines infection control measures that have worked in schools during the pandemic.

Wearing masks is especially important for controlling COVID-19 transmission and masks should be worn inside schools by all staff and students, except during meals and in other limited circumstances.

Other infection control measures in the new MDHHS guidance include:

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 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 information on the Michigan Guidelines for Operating Schools Safety

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