Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, and MDHHS Director Robert Gordon announced that, effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, December 21, students in grades 9-12 will be allowed to return to school in-person. This is a welcome announcement for Principals who know that our students need the support and stability their local school community provides.
Here are the details of today's announcement:
- Students in grades 9-12 will be allowed to return to in-person instruction effective at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, December 21 subject to the same safety precautions required in all other grades (e.g. mask wearing, social distancing in the cafeteria, etc.).
- Some extracurricular activities will be allowed to resume. Extracurriculars where there is heavy exhalation or exertion or where participants cannot wear masks are prohibited. But other extracurricular activities are allowed to resume. The order does not offer a definition of what precisely this means, so local districts will have to make a determination about how they will implement this provision. However, it is reasonable to read the order to say band and choir continue to be suspended, but schools may consider resuming activities like student government where students can participate without increased respiration or forceful exhalation.
- Organized sports continue to be suspended except for outdoor, non-contact athletics (e.g. skiing).
- There is a new exemption for organized sports for "a school is participating in an MDHHS testing pilot program." The details on this pilot are not included in today's order, but MASSP's understanding is that this pilot program is intended to allow championships for the remaining three fall sports that have not yet played their championships. Stay tuned for more information.
- The prohibition on in-person work when that work can feasibly be completed remotely remains in effect.
- The order will remain in place through at least January 15, 2021, though Governor Whitmer made it clear during the press conference that she views the future suspension of in-person instruction in any form to be a last resort.
- Outside of education, other businesses will be allowed to reopen subject to social distancing and mask wearing requirements. Those include movie theaters, stadiums, arenas, bowling alleys, bingo halls, casinos, and the like. Restaurants will remain closed for indoor dining as will night clubs.
Given the timing of today's announcement, some districts may choose to resume in-person instruction prior to the holiday break. However, whether your district opts to resume in-person instruction immediately, after the holidays, or not until the situation in your community is safer and more stable, today's announcement gives schools some welcome notice so they can plan ahead.
We know you are doing everything possible to keep students safe and that you want nothing more than to bring your students back to school in-person safely. If you have any questions or need further information, do not hesitate to reach out to us.