Many have been waiting for some time to get some type of guidance from Governor Whitmer concerning Michigan’s K-12 schools opening or not opening this fall.  It has finally come and some will be happy and some will not.

Who will be happy?  Many parents because she has not yet called for a continuation of what many thought was not an effective and productive teaching method.  That method being on-line classes.  Many were not happy with either the transition or what their child got out of on-line learning.  Although I hear that there is a growing number of parents who are seriously considering moving their children to on-line classes just not the ones that many school districts created.

Whitmer's latest executive order will require Michigan school districts to create a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. The order does state that schools will be shut to most visitors and will be restricted to essential personnel for teaching and feeding students.

Who might not be happy?  Any student and probably their parents who are involved with athletics or after school activities.  Right now the Governor's guidelines are not exactly clear on whether she will allow athletics or after school activities in the fall to occur.

Whitmer's plan suggests, the caveat being "suggests", that athletics and extracurricular after school activities not be offered this fall. Her plan states that private and public schools must develop reopening plans that:

suspend athletics, after-school activities, inter-school activities (e.g., debate competitions) and busing.

If schools do not have fall athletics or after school extracurricular activities I believe that will be a huge blow to these teenager's dreams.  These teenagers have dreamed and worked for many years to represent their schools on the athletic field or courts.  I could not imagine working for years to get an opportunity to start for my High School’s athletic team and then have the Governor crush my dreams and tell me I cannot have that opportunity.  I could understand if this COVID-19 virus affected the children as bad as the elderly but that is not the case.  There is a mountain of data that proves young people make up a minuscule percentage of people who even show symptoms and even smaller percentages of deaths.

According to the Detroit Free Press the Michigan Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, restricts all in-person instruction when cases are very high. As the bulk of the state stands today, there are a number of restrictions that would have to be put in place. Those include:

  • Staff and teachers would have to wear face masks at all times.
  • All students would have to wear face masks in hallways and common areas and on buses. Every student would have to use hand sanitizer before getting on the bus.
  • Students in grade 6 through 12 would have to wear face masks at all times; younger students wouldn't have to wear face masks in classrooms.
  • It would be recommended that desks be placed six feet apart and students and teachers social distance, even in the classroom.
  • Schools would have to work with local health departments on screening protocols.
  • No indoor assemblies with students from more than one classroom would be allowed.
  • It would be recommended that most meals be served in the classroom or outdoors. It would be recommended that meal times would be staggered to allow social distancing in the cafeteria if it was being used.
  • Athletics would have to follow the MHSAA guidance and rules. Spectators would be allowed if they are wearing face masks and maintaining social distancing.

The University of Michigan conducted an online survey, published last Friday by UM's Susan B. Meister Child Health Evaluation and Research Center.  They only included in their study 1,193 parents of school-aged children in three states from June 12-22, those states being Michigan, Ohio and Illinois.  Their survey found that one-third of Michigan parents may not send their children to public school this fall due to COVID-19 concerns.

In the state of Michigan:

  • 66.7% of those surveyed said they likely planned to send their children to school this fall
  • 12.4% said they likely would not send them 
  • and 20% said they were unsure of their plans

Do you believe it is a good idea to cancel all fall athletics and after school clubs or does robbing the teenagers of this rite of passage go a step too far, knowing what we do of this virus?

Let's hope that the Governor clarifies if fall athletics or after school activities can move forward this fall.  A high school coach and teacher called my show today to inform us that their interpretation is that athletics or after school activities are still scheduled to happen this fall they just need a plan if she decides to cancel them.

That would be an easy plan, just tell everyone the party is over and go home.

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