Moments ago, Governor Whitmer announced that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued an epidemic order that will reinstate restrictions on gatherings, including a suspension of in-person instruction for most students in grades 9-12. The order will take effect this coming Wednesday, November 18 and remain in place for the next three weeks. For educators, the other key takeaways from today's announcement include a mandatory work from home order for all employees (unless remote work is not feasible) and the suspension of all organized sports and other in-person extracurriculars.
Here is a rundown of the details of todays order:
- Today's order goes into effect at 12:01am this coming Wednesday, November 18 and will remain in effect for three weeks until December 8 at 11:59pm.
- All in-person work is suspended unless it is not feasible for an employee to complete their work remotely. Per recent MIOSHA guidance, this means that employers cannot require employees to report in-person unless they can "demonstrate infeasibility of remote work."
- In-person instruction is suspended statewide for most students in grades 9-12. In person instruction is still permitted for students in grades PK-8.
- Schools may continue to provide special education and English language learner services in-person for students in grades 9-12.
- Organized sports are suspended completely as are all other school-sponsored in-person extra curricular activities.
- School buildings may remain open to students in all grades "for the purpose of providing services to students in need, including food distribution, access to internet connectivity, physical and mental health care services, and child care."
- The order imposes significant new restrictions on social gatherings, including residential gatherings. Non-residential indoor social gatherings are prohibited entirely. Indoor social gatherings at a residence are limited to no more than two households. Outdoor residential social gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people from no more than three households. Outdoor non-residential social gatherings are limited to 20% of venue capacity or 20 people per 1,000 square feet.
- Gyms, exercise facilities, and pools may remain open at a maximum of 25% capacity, but no group classes will be permitted and 12 foot spacing is required between exercise equipment.
- Indoor dine-in service at restaurants and bars is suspended, though take-out service may continue.
Here is a quick rundown of the questions we have answers to that we expect most Principals will either be asking or be asked:
- If your building has students in grades PK-8 and grades 9-12 (e.g. a junior/senior high school with students in grade 7-12), in-person instruction can continue for younger students.
- The suspension of organized sports will mean either the cancellation or postponement of any remaining fall sports playoff games. MHSAA has yet to announce how they will handle the new restrictions.
- The suspension of organized sport also includes in-person practice sessions, which will impact the start of training and practice for winter sports.
Principals should also note that today's order was issued by MDHHS under the authority granted them by MCL 333.2253, which was not at issue in the recent Supreme Court decision.