Schools should offer in-person classes by March 1
LANSING (AP) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday strongly encouraged all K-12 schools in Michigan to reopen for in-person instruction by March 1, stopping short of requiring it but saying face-to-face classes should at least be an option.
Many schools, including in large districts such as Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, have been fully remote during the coronavirus pandemic. Teachers are among residents who will begin being vaccinated starting Monday as the state transitions to the next phase of its vaccine rollout. Vaccines were first offered to health care workers and nursing home residents.
“The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable,” Whitmer said, saying it is safe if schools require masks and adopt infection-prevention protocols.
Whitmer last month lifted her administration’s ban on in-person learning in high schools as a spike in COVID-19 infections receded.
In December, at least 800,000 public school students — 55% — were in districts that planned to offer only virtual instruction, according to a study by Michigan State University. About 453,000, or 31%, were in districts with an option of full in-person learning. Others had hybrid or other setups.
Under a 2020 law, Michigan schools that deem it safe to provide face-to-face classes during the pandemic must prioritize the option for K-5 students.