New MDHHS Guidance Encourages Schools to Offer In-Person Learning
LANSING, MI - Governor Gretchen Whitmer held a press conference on Friday, January 8th to announce that the state’s goal was to have all Michigan school districts offer an in-person learning option for students no later than March 1st, but would like to see it be done earlier if possible. This announcement comes just two days after Michigan moved into the next phase of COVID-19 vaccinations. Beginning on Monday, January 11th all K-12 teachers and staff will be eligible to get vaccinated.
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Director Robert Gordon stated in a press release that they will continue to do whatever possible to limit the spread of COVID-19, but that in-person learning is crucial for the well-being of students. He would like for schools to reopen as soon as they’re able to provide ample protections for staff and students.
“Over the last 10 months, medical experts and epidemiologists have closely followed the data and have learned that schools can establish a low risk of transmission by ensuring that everyone wears a mask and adopting careful infection prevention protocols,” said Governor Whitmer. “I also announced this week that educators and support staff will be eligible for the next phase of COVID vaccinations beginning Jan. 11 to help protect them and their families as they return to work. I strongly encourage districts to provide as much face-to-face learning as possible, and my administration will work closely with them to get it done.”
MDHHS released infection control measures for schools to adhere to:
-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.
Information about COVID-19 changes rapidly, meaning the guidance is subject to change as well. More information can be found at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus and CDC.gov/Coronavirus.