Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor
Photo courtesy the Office of the Governor

From masks in the classrooms to a ban on assemblies, this is how Gov. Whitmer plans to return kids to school this fall.

MICHIGAN — Schools in Michigan are set to resume in-person instruction in the fall, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced. 

She released a 63-page MI Safe Schools roadmap that outlines the ways schools will reengage safely.

“Getting back to classroom learning and remaining in school buildings will require us to make changes to how school usually looks,” Gov. Whitmer said. “The roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the MI Safe Start plan.”

SEE ALSO: Michigan Republicans Want to Cut School Budgets Instead of Taking Federal COVID Aid

Combined, the executive order and the MI Safe Schools roadmap require school districts to develop policies to engage students under a number of public health scenarios and provide recommendations for what those plans ought to encompass.

Here are the 11 takeaways you need to know about Gov. Whitmer’s plan: 

Required Safety Protocols

Personal Protective Equipment in the form of masks must be worn by students, staff, bus drivers, and faculty in preK-12 environments during transportation or while in halls. Students in Grade 6 or higher must also wear masks in the classroom. 

Soap and sanitizer must be available to all students and staff. Teachers should instruct students on 20-second handwashing and other pandemic-related hygiene procedures.  

Social distancing must be observed in the classroom by placing desks six feet apart. Class sizes should be based on meeting this spacing requirement. Social distancing markings and signage should be posted to help students and staff maintain six feet of distance. 

COVID screenings must be implemented in cooperation with local health departments for all students and staff. 

 Positive tests must be reported, and contact tracing has to be implemented following up with everyone who has had close contact with the student or staff member who tested positive for at least two days before the onset of symptoms. 

Assemblies are prohibited, as is any situation where more than one classroom is gathered indoors for any purpose. 

Athletics will be permitted with strict sanitation procedures. Spectators at sporting events will be required to wear masks and observe social distancing. Water bottles must not be shared, and athletes must wear masks. 

Cleaning must follow strict COVID guidelines, and hands-on locations like libraries and computer labs must undergo cleaning every class period. While cleaning, staff must wear masks, face shields, and gloves. 

School busses must provide hand sanitizer and students must use it when boarding the bus. Busses must be cleaned and disinfected after each run. Students who become sick during the day cannot board school busses to return home, so districts must make additional plans for those situations. 

Medically-vulnerable students and staff must have a means to self-identify to the school district. Schools must develop plans for high-risk students and staff to provide alternate learning methods or work reassignments. All existing individualized education and health plans for students must be re-evaluated to ensure COVID safety. 

Additional recommendations for school districts exist under each of these areas that can be implemented in each school district’s individual plan to address educational reengagement. 

A Flexible Plan to Reopen Schools 

Delineated above is how the MI Safe Schools plan will operate in the likely event that the pandemic is present but well-managed in the fall, but the plan includes potential adjustments if the actual state of the pandemic this fall is either noticeably better or worse than the “Phase 4” described in MI Safe Start. 

READ MORE: The 2 Kinds of Risk and 8 Regions Key to Reopening Michigan

If the region a school district is in is classified “Phase 3” or lower, instruction will remain fully remote. 

In addition to the safety protocols, the plan outlines changes to instruction, operations, and emotional well-being. 

You can read the full plan here.