LANSING, Mich. — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's administration has set a goal of Michigan schools offering in-person learning options by March 1.
Medical experts and epidemiologists say schools pose a low risk of COVID-19 transmission, according to Whitmer.
In addition, the state will expand eligibility next week for the coronavirus vaccine to certain frontline workers, including teachers.
"On top of testing and vaccinations, we will work with districts to ensure that when schools begin in-person learning, safety protocols like mask-wearing, hand-washing and social distancing remain in place," Whitmer said.
The guidance is for grades pre-kindergarten through 12 and includes early childhood education, such as Head Start and Great Start Readiness.
“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 state offers the following tips for keeping schools safe during the pandemic:
- When feasible, assigning children to cohort groups and limiting their interactions to their cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.
- Keeping children six 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 MDHHS guidance and those of local health departments.
Read the MDHHS guidelines here.
Meanwhile, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, says the downward trend in COVID-19 cases seems to be reversing.
She encourages anyone who traveled over the holidays to quarantine at home for at least 10 days after returning.
Anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus or who knows they were exposed should also get tested, she said.
The state’s current restrictions on indoor dining and gatherings are set to expire Jan. 15.
Officials have said it could be extended or lifted early depending on COVID-19 cases in the state.
SEE MORE: CORONAVIRUS IN WEST MICHIGAN