MI Safe Schools Return to Learn Roadmap

July 1, 2020



Yesterday, Governor Whitmer, advised by the Return to School Advisory Council, issued a set of guidelines for how schools can operate in Fall 2020.  This comprehensive 63-page document MI Safe Schools Return to Learn Roadmap provides guidance for schools to create plans in each of Michigan’s safe start phases.  The guidelines are robust and have many details. According to the document, in-person instruction is permissible if the region is at phase 4 or above. If an area is at phase 3 or below, schools are not permitted to open and all learning must occur online. 

The information is a lot to digest and in the coming weeks, there will be more details and plans shared by individual districts. There will also be some people who agree with the guidelines and others who do not- as parents and guardians, you always have the option of asking questions and making the best choice for your students. Here are a few things that you can do to help your family and your children prepare for the new school year.

  1. We know that the year will be different and changes can cause anxiety in kids. The adults can help to alleviate any stress and fear in kids by talking to them on a regular basis and reassuring them that they will be ok. Students may be fearful of wearing a mask and worried about having to wash their hands several times a day.  They may wonder what lunch and recess will be like and some may be sad that athletics are in flux. As the parents and guardians, you may have your own concerns, which is understandable. However, it is especially important that adults reflect confidence and trust in the schools in front of the kids. They will look to you to help them deal with their own feelings. Try to be as positive as possible when talking to your students, but do share your concerns privately with the school so that you can also be reassured.
  2. When in school, students will need to practice new safety habits that include frequent washing of hands and possibly wearing masks.  Take some time this summer to help your children practice these skills, especially wearing a mask.  Students grades 6-12 and any student who switches classrooms will need to wear a mask at some points during the day. Letting your kids practice wearing a mask at home will help them get more comfortable and become more confident about needing to wear one at school. It’s not an ideal situation, but as the Governor said in her press conference, we are experiencing a cultural change and helping kids get used to these changes can make them seem less drastic when they return to school.
  3. Be sure that your student is enrolled in your school of choice, so that the school can plan for your child’s safe return.  From masks to hand sanitizer to space in the classroom, every student counts and you want to ensure that your child’s needs are considered.
  4. Our collective goal as a community should be to stay at level 4 and above so that kids can go back to school.  All of the experts tell us that in person instruction is mentally and socially healthier for children, and while virtual education can be a good choice for some students, it requires a different set of skills to be fully prepared to succeed. In the interest of the collective good for our kids, all of us should do what it takes to reduce the spread of Covid-19. Wear masks, stay home if we are sick, keep our distance when out in public, stay out of large crowds if possible and wash our hands often. Prevention now will help our students have access to the type of learning environments that they need and deserve in the fall.

As more details emerge about how schools are returning to school, please return to the Schools Guide Website for more information.


Written by The Community Education Commission