Governor Whitmer and Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for MDHHS, announced today that Michigan will begin offering rapid COVID-19 tests to schools that want to employ voluntary rapid testing as part of their strategy for safely reopening in-person instruction. In tandem with this announcement, the Governor announced an official goal – not a mandate – that all schools begin providing in-person opportunities to students as soon as possible and no later than March 1.
While full details of the rapid testing program were not immediately available, what we do know is this:
- The MDHHS has released updated guidance for schools that included curated best practices for infection mitigation in addition to some high level details about the new testing program.
- The initial target of the program will be "weekly testing to educators in public schools."
- While the initial program will not include rapid testing for students, MASSP is told that some student testing may be an option in the future.
- The program will be similar – though not identical – to the rapid testing pilot program that MDHHS is already running in collaboration with MHSAA to allow schools to complete their fall sports championships. Full details of that program can be found here.
- In today's announcement, the Governor emphasized the message that the evidence shows that schools can be safe, low risk environments when they implement these sorts of infection control measures, many of which schools already have in place.
- Testing in schools is not a replacement for mitigation practices, including use of masks and social distancing.
In announcing the state's goal of having all schools offer in-person learning opportunities to students by March 1, the Governor recognized that in-person learning would look different in different communities. While some schools may return to full time in-person instruction for most students, some may opt for hybrid instruction models. She also noted that not all students and parents would feel comfortable returning to in-person learning this school year and made it clear that districts could continue offering remote learning options.
MASSP will be hosting a FREE webinar this coming Friday, January 15 at 1:30 pm with Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian MD, MPH, Senior Public Health Physician with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Brandy Johnson, Governor Whitmer's education policy advisor about Michigan's new voluntary rapid COVID-19 testing program for schools and the state's goals for returning to in-person instruction. Learn first hand about the details and get answers to your questions.