Ron French

Project Editor/Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined The Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors. In 2007, French uncovered Michigan’s educator pension and health-care costs that are now at the center of policy debate in Lansing. He is also the author of “Driven Abroad,” a book chronicling the movement of Michigan jobs overseas. You can reach Ron via email at rfrench@bridgemi.com, or call him at 517-657-3501.

Articles

Data show most Michigan schools safe to reopen, but plans all over map

Data show most Michigan schools safe to reopen, but plans all over map

August 19, 2020 | Mike Wilkinson, Ron French

Coronavirus standards set by the CDC, WHO and Harvard point to most Michigan counties being safe for class. But a lack of specific state benchmarks means individual districts are left to wing it on their own.

Michigan has 14 school-related coronavirus outbreaks. State won’t say where.

Michigan has 14 school-related coronavirus outbreaks. State won’t say where.

August 19, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French

The state health department declined to say which K-12 schools or colleges had confirmed outbreaks, noting that it has not done so for many businesses. One education leader said parents will likely want to know. 

MSU moves undergrad classes online, tells dorm residents to stay home

MSU moves undergrad classes online, tells dorm residents to stay home

August 18, 2020 | Ron French

With Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina facing COVID outbreaks after classes started on their campuses, MSU is switching to remote learning before students return to East Lansing.

Michigan schools already planning for likely ‘rolling closures’ from COVID

Michigan schools already planning for likely ‘rolling closures’ from COVID

August 7, 2020 | Ron French

School closures in other states have Michigan education leaders preparing for what they say are inevitable closures and quarantines this fall.

Michigan school leaders: We need answers from Lansing now to open

Michigan school leaders: We need answers from Lansing now to open

August 6, 2020 | Ron French

Michigan schools are creating reopening plans for the fall during the coronavirus pandemic with little guidance from the state about what is required, and how they’ll be funded.

With deadline looming, MSU students debate returning to campus amid COVID

With deadline looming, MSU students debate returning to campus amid COVID

August 4, 2020 | Ron French

Will 18-year-olds eager for a college experience opt to stay home to be safe? Michigan State University is about to find out.

Poll: Half of Michigan says their schools aren’t safe during COVID-19

Poll: Half of Michigan says their schools aren’t safe during COVID-19

August 4, 2020 | Ron French

Despite planned safety protocols in schools, half of residents surveyed aren’t sold on the notion of returning children to classroom settings in the midst of a global pandemic. Thirty-six percent said schools would be safe, a drop since earlier polling.

Michigan State to students: With classes online, maybe you should stay home

Michigan State to students: With classes online, maybe you should stay home

August 3, 2020 | Ron French

MSU said in May it would reopen its campus in the fall. But rising coronavirus cases have led university officials to encourage students to take their classes online from their homes.

Are Michigan schools safe to reopen? Here’s what science and doctors say

Are Michigan schools safe to reopen? Here’s what science and doctors say

July 30, 2020 | Ron French

Some schools say classrooms aren’t safe, and others are hanging up the welcome sign (albeit with plenty of face masks). It’s confusing even for epidemiologists.

 Education leaders beg Lansing: Don’t cut funds for poor Michigan students

Education leaders beg Lansing: Don’t cut funds for poor Michigan students

July 28, 2020 | Ron French

Michigan schools are likely to get less money in the coming state budget due to the economic crisis caused by coronavirus. One group urges lawmakers to make those cuts with a scalpel rather than an ax.

Michigan school districts push back on GOP plan for elementary classes

Michigan school districts push back on GOP plan for elementary classes

July 27, 2020 | Ron French

Grand Rapids joins Ann Arbor, Lansing and other large districts in planning to begin this fall with remote learning in all grades. A Republican bill, if passed, would threaten those districts with loss of state funds.

First Michigan school district to go fully online amid coronavirus

First Michigan school district to go fully online amid coronavirus

July 17, 2020 | Ron French

Students in Lansing will start the school year online. Will other Michigan school districts do the same? Most districts expect to make their plans public in the coming weeks.

Wayne State amid coronavirus: few in-person classes, mandatory face masks

Wayne State amid coronavirus: few in-person classes, mandatory face masks

July 15, 2020 | Ron French

Detroit’s public university will welcome students back for the fall, but it will be anything but a normal semester.

Michigan schools lean toward returning kids to classrooms amid coronavirus

Michigan schools lean toward returning kids to classrooms amid coronavirus

July 14, 2020 | Ron French

Students may wear face masks and may eat lunch at their desks, but the majority of Michigan schools that have announced plans for the fall are planning to offer families the option of full-time, face-to-face instruction.

Violence erupts in Michigan over state mask mandate ‘powder keg’

Violence erupts in Michigan over state mask mandate ‘powder keg’

July 14, 2020 | Robin Erb, Ron French, Jonathan Oosting

Tensions are boiling over as confrontations increase over Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's mask rule designed to contain COVID-19 becomes “the number one anxiety-producing pain point for retailers right now.”

Whitmer orders Michigan stores to refuse entry to those not wearing masks

Whitmer orders Michigan stores to refuse entry to those not wearing masks

July 10, 2020 | Ron French, Paula Gardner

With coronavirus cases rising, Michigan’s governor toughened state face mask requirements. Starting Monday, expect to be refused entry to stores and restaurants if you’re not covered. Customers face fines, stores face closure for ignoring.

Whitmer: Michigan school reopening threatened by rising coronavirus cases

Whitmer: Michigan school reopening threatened by rising coronavirus cases

July 9, 2020 | Ron French, Riley Beggin

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer warned Michigan families Thursday: If you want kids back in school in September, wear face masks today. She also hinted at stronger enforcement actions in the coming days.

Huge drop in Michigan vaccinations scares experts during coronavirus

Huge drop in Michigan vaccinations scares experts during coronavirus

July 8, 2020 | Ted Roelofs, Ron French

Michigan vaccinations in May were down 46 percent, raising health concerns about the flu and other illnesses. More troubling: rates for children 9 to 18 were down 66 percent, casting doubt on whether they will be allowed to enroll in school in the fall.

Nessel sues DeVos to stop coronavirus funding to Michigan private schools

Nessel sues DeVos to stop coronavirus funding to Michigan private schools

July 7, 2020 | Ron French

Michigan’s attorney general joined AGs in several states in suing U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos over CARES Act dollars going to private schools. A DeVos spokesperson said the funding is intended for all students.

Here’s why Michigan won’t require social distancing in schools this fall

Here’s why Michigan won’t require social distancing in schools this fall

July 6, 2020 | Ron French

Desks won’t be six feet apart at your child’s elementary school in September, even if that’s the rule in restaurants. School officials say bringing students back full time would make social distancing nearly impossible.

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