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

There may be face masks in school, but don’t count on your first-grader social-distancing from his classmates. (Bridge file photo)

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When students return to Michigan schools in September, the state won’t order them to stay six feet away from their friends in classrooms or on buses.

But cross the street to indoor seating at an ice cream parlor, and social distancing is required.

The difference has less to do with health recommendations than the immovable realities of classroom size, school budgets and the need to allow parents to return to work, say school leaders who spoke to Bridge before and after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s school reopening announcement.

Whitmer released a 63-page school reopening plan June 30 that laid out requirements and recommendations for the state’s public and private K-12 schools under various pandemic risk phases. There are stringent safety protocols for schools if the state’s pandemic status remains as it is today (phase 4 in the Lower Peninsula), including face masks for students in grades 6-12 and face coverings for all teachers and staff.

If Whitmer moves the state to phase 5, safety protocols are loosened. For example the requirement that most students wear face masks is lowered to a “strong recommendation.”

While there are numerous safety protocols recommended or required by state health officials in the plan, there’s one that is notably missing: the social distancing requirements that are mandated for other places people commonly gather, such as restaurants and bars. For example, restaurants and bars are currently required to have six feet of separation between tables.

Dr. Matthew Sims, infectious disease control expert at Beaumont Health, said he “didn’t fully understand the thinking” behind the lack of social distancing requirements in schools. Sims said there was “absolutely no difference” in the health benefits of maintaining six feet whether you’re in a restaurant or in a classroom.

Kevin Polston, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools near Grand Rapids, who served on a 25-member advisory panel that drafted recommendations for the governor, said the panel wanted to be realistic in its plan.

“We wanted to make sure we had some strict mitigation strategies,” Polston said, “(but) we wanted to make sure whatever we put in the plan was actually viable for schools.”

School leaders who spoke to Bridge listed several reasons why schools can’t social distance if they’re going to open their buildings to all students in the fall.

Classrooms are too small

Most schools do not have classrooms large enough to space desks six feet apart. Lou Steigerwald, superintendent of Norway-Vulcan Public Schools in the Upper Peninsula, said his elementary school classrooms would be limited to 13 or 14 desks with social distancing. 

The average number of students in Michigan elementary classrooms is 25, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Costs, costs, costs

Even in schools that have unused classrooms that could be utilized for social distancing, districts don’t have the funds to hire more teachers. In fact, they’ll be lucky to keep the number of teachers they had last school year. The School Aid Fund is facing a shortfall of $1.1 billion for the coming school year because of plummeting tax revenue caused by the pandemic lockdown and skyrocketing unemployment.

Coming and going from school creates another social-distancing problem. To social distance on buses would require running two or three-times as many bus routes. The cost of more buses, more bus drivers and more gas “would bankrupt us,” said Mark Platt, superintendent of Hart Public Schools, in Oceana County near Lake Michigan.

Parent jobs

For most schools, the only way to maintain social distance between students is to have fewer students in school buildings at any one time. That would require students to attend school some days during the week, and continue homebound, remote learning other days.

Many parents of elementary-age children couldn’t hold jobs if their children were home some days, said Hart’s Platt, who announced weeks ago that his district’s 1,200 students would be returning to classrooms five days a week.

“Do you really want your child to come to school for two days and stay home the rest of the week?” Platt asked. “Let’s not forget that schools are needed to educate our kids during the day so our parents can work.”

School’s role in student health

Polston of the advisory panel said COVID-19 was just “one health factor we weighed, but there were other health factors as well.”

By not requiring social distancing in schools, all 1.5 million Michigan K-12 students can return to classrooms every day, which has its own health benefits, Polston said.

“If kids aren’t in school, a parent may have to make the impossible decision between staying home with their child or going to work and providing for their family,” Polston said, because not having a job could make the difference between having food on the table or a roof over a family’s head.

“For some students, the nutritional value of school meals is vital,” Polston said. “And there is the social emotional component of being with friends and having a trusted adult like a teacher.”

In the end, despite the concerns about increased risk of coronavirus infection by not enforcing social distancing in schools, “we believe it’s a public health crisis to not have kids in school,” Polston said.

That view was echoed last week by The American Academy of Pediatrics, which recommended that students return to school buildings in the fall.

Beaumont infectious disease specialist Sims acknowledged the benefits of children being in school — his own school-age children have suffered from not being in classrooms, he said. And children who do become infected tend to have milder symptoms or no symptoms at all from COVID-19.

Still, Sims said he worries about the people who come in contact with those children.

“So parent X gets infected, and their kid gets infected from them, and then it spreads through the classroom and they go home and infect their parents,” Sims said. “It’s not as much about the kids themselves as it is about them being a vector” for disease transmission.

Polston said that possibility is not lost on him. 

“We acknowledge it’s a reasonable possibility there will be positive (COVID-19) tests among school students in the fall,” he said. To mitigate spread, the state plan recommends schools keep elementary students in their home classroom, so that if a student becomes infected, only one class of students is quarantined rather than an entire school.

“We also know that it’s reasonable there may be periodic closures throughout the year,” Polston said.

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Mon, 07/06/2020 - 8:35am

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:45am

I am a retired public school employee. Lack of funding in my district years ago resulted in outsourcing custodial, transportation (sold all busses), substitute teachers. On top of outsourcing custodial, cuts were made, resulting in cleaning only certain areas, cleaning every other day, etc. The quality of cleaning and upkeep diminished rapidly. With additional lack of funding, I wonder if the committee has thought of how districts like mine, are going to keep up. I’ve been part of County Committees, District Committees, etc. I understand it’s difficult to come to these “recommendations”. Just keep in mind that returning to school may not be “ok” for all students. Parents still have to make the right decision for their families.

Stop the Madness
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 8:35pm

"When students return to Michigan schools in September, the state won’t order them to stay six feet away from their friends in classrooms or on buses.

But cross the street to indoor seating at an ice cream parlor, and social distancing is required.

The difference has less to do with health recommendations than the immovable realities of classroom size, school budgets and the need to allow parents to return to work, say school leaders who spoke to Bridge before and after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s school reopening announcement."

So we're intentionally infecting our children as a social experiment and going the failed "herd immunity" route, like Sweden. All our efforts to date have been done in vain. BTW Sweden's approach has been a certified failure, did I mention that?

Just when you thought the US couldn't do any worse, it exceeds your lowest expectations!

Warren Silverwood
Sat, 07/25/2020 - 9:29pm

Fact: Based on Sweden's death count as of 07/25/20 (5,697) they have done far better than Michigan (6,399).

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:08am

Yet again, teachers are being served up as martyrs, this time to facilitate a rushed reopening ... Anything to not have to address how badly public education has been kneecapped and just how much money and work will be required to address the issue. The sad part is that people, especially those who hold anti-public education biases, will only attack teachers further for daring to not offer themselves up as sacrifices. This couldn't be more misguided; teachers, in large part, are hurting in this crisis just as much, if not more than others. We want to get back to our classrooms, we want to get back to working with our students. However, we refuse to be bullied or guilted into sacrificing our safety, the safety of our families, and, ultimately, the safety of our students, in a poorly-researched and largely political crusade that puts dollars over safety and lives.

Unconscionable, but unfortunately par for the course.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:08am

It is obvious that the well-being of educators and their families is an acceptable trade-off for the illusion of a return to normal (a return that will not occur in the absence of a vaccine or effective treatment). Expect an abrupt and significant addition to the existing teacher shortage.

Fri, 07/10/2020 - 3:04pm

Hmmmm could it be the right leaning media is the only one thats right.
Kids are suffering from not being in school in many many ways and I as a parent am suffering watching them.
This pandemic will never end until after the election and then depending on the results, it may worsen. Wake up Michigan!!! The left wants us scared sheep who obey so they can control is all. Keep America Free! Do you enjoy your freedom? Then vote Red all the way down that ballot because this "living" isnt really living.

John Chastain
Mon, 07/13/2020 - 9:47am

Jill, the thing about disease is that it doesn't care about your political inclinations or your tendency to engage in semi hysterical rants about sheep and freedom. Whose "controlling" whom? If you are buying into the continuous stream of ignorance and hubris coming from reactionary conservative propaganda sites who is the "sheep" then? You're right though about how this ain't "living". To bad, if the fool play acting at being president had done his job instead of fixating on his "polling numbers & public image" and tweeting about them for endless hours, we might be ready to send children back to school. In his and your world "freedom" is oppression and "living" is death, good luck with that eh.

Tim Janssen
Sun, 07/26/2020 - 1:01pm

Aren't we getting tired of speaking in terms of arbitrary terms such as "left" or "right?" Over-politicizing a pandemic can be divisive, to say the least. And, who knows what those terms mean in any absolute sense? "Red" or "Blue" is another one. I'm not saying to never frame things using those words but aren't we all in this together, at least in terms of pandemic?

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:27am

May I politely ask: when schools were saddled with the responsibility of becoming daycare centers? Can remote education be possible? Can children under grade 5 become sick with the virus and get encephalitis? Can they transmit the virus to their parents? Would it still be a mandate to make one's children attend school? Are the air ducts capable of carrying the virus from one said 'home classroom' to another? Could larger buildings, currently unused (closed big box stores) be used for better social distancing? Are teachers allowed to opt out of teaching until a vaccine is developed? Is there a way to restructure the tax system to allow for emergency funding to schools from some more philanthropic levels of the tax brackets?

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 12:53am

I agree with you 100%. This is the best comment I’ve read so far addressing the nonsense I read about reopening schools in the fall

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 9:22pm

In Michigan, there is barely a mandate to send your children to school. Michigan’s homeschool regulations are some of the least stringent in the country. I suspect that there may be a lot more homeschooling (done poorly) this Fall.

Sat, 07/18/2020 - 4:08am

Thomas: While it is true that Michigan is homeschool friendly, your statement claiming that homeschooling is "done poorly" is nothing more than an erroneous assumption. I have an associates degree in radiology. However, I quit working to homeschool our children K-12.

Our daughter is 33. She is an RN and received her Bachelor's Degree in Nursing before she was 20. She is also a professional photographer, and a graphic artist that designs shirts for a Michigan company. She's a marvelous cook, she sews, plays 3 instruments and sings in Church and at weddings.

Our son is 30. He started college when he was 16. He is a Tool and Die Engineer, and a Journeyman Electrician. He played baseball and football through our local school system. He plays 4 instruments and won dozens of singing competitions during his elementary and high school years.

I'm truly not bragging, as my children are not unique in the homeschooling community. Studies prove that homeschooled students on average have higher ACT and SAT scores, and have a higher GPA and graduation rate in college.

I would never propose that everyone homeschool their children, or claim that everyone that homeschools does exceptionally well. However, I can assure you (and statistics agree) that we would be hard pressed to do worse than Michigan public schools, whose scores range between 28th and 42nd place among all US States in 2019.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 9:18am

If your son played sports at the public high school then he must have been taking four classes there or he wouldn't have been MHSAA eligible.

John Chastain
Mon, 07/13/2020 - 9:57am

Schools have been serving multiple functions for decades now. The days that schools were only about education ended awhile ago. And even then there were families that had no one at home during the school day. I graduated in the early 70's and am among the last of the people I have known with a stay at home parent. That is now a luxury only the wealthy can afford, pretty much everyone else is part of a two working parent household. Or a single parent one barely hanging on. When I was younger I could support a family and own a home on one salary. That is pretty much impossible now. Wages have stagnated and housing costs alone have skyrocketed beyond many peoples means. So I could go on but I've made my point. We as a society don't support families and the use of school for other things besides education is a more or less hidden cost of modern society.

Wed, 07/15/2020 - 3:04pm

Tonya, you made some very valid and thought provoking points. I am a custodial leader in a very large public school district and I can most assuredly tell you that the air ducts in almost all of the schools in our district are the original (or very close to it) duct system. The units have been upgraded but not the ducts and in my 20 years have never seen a duct cleaned. Not only do I wonder (anxiously I might add) about the spread of the coronavirus through the hvac system, but many of our schools have had asbestos abatement within the last few years. I have spoken several times to teachers, support staff, and parent volunteers who remark that they get headaches and sinus issues after being in some of the schools for a short period of time and it is no doubt due to the collection of several years of whatever is lingering in the ducts. We have been busy in our school district readying the schools with heavy disinfecting procedures since March 13 when the schools were shut down. But that could all be for naught within the first 20 minutes of the first day of school. My biggest wonder is what is going to happen when a child goes to the clinic not feeling well. Who will decide whether it is Covid-19, the flu, or a cold? We only have a district nurse, they got rid of individual school nurses years ago so it will be dependent upon a clerk, secretary or health aide to determine what to do with that sick child. If schools do open as planned in the traditional way, they won't be open long. I believe we will be back at phase 3 by the end of October. I truly feel for my grandkids, nieces and nephews and all the kiddies who want to be in school and whose parents are overwhelmed with decisions. Sadly, it's gonna be another rough school year.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:53am

So just to be clear, they are willing to sacrifice the lives of the teachers, and people are OK with this? Barbaric

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 11:58pm

No one is forcing the under worked teachers to do anything! Let them get a job where their employment depends on getting results on the job like the the non-public sector workers do. The teacher unions hold property owners hostage every time! Time to break up the "Red for Ed" crowd and their public workers union nonsense.

Stephan Nason
Thu, 07/09/2020 - 10:11am

I despise this false equivalency between industry (producing in animate products) vs education and social agencies producing and supporting people who are are alive).
When one looks at the myriad of product recalls in industry, they aren't doing so well either. Should we fire all the employees who helped manufacture a product that had to be recalled due to the quality of the of the materials used and/or the manufacturing process?

middle of the mit
Thu, 07/09/2020 - 6:16pm

I understand where you are coming from, but employees can only build things to the standards the employer allows them to. Don't blame those who have no say over the quality of materials but only the quality of workmanship.

That responsibility falls to management.

Jennifer G
Sat, 07/11/2020 - 2:58pm

Well said! Other work sectors are begging to go back to work because that's how they make money to live. All school employees were paid during this shut down and if schools don't open in the fall they will be getting that free money again. It's more about teachers stepping out of their comfort zone and doing things differently AND having to work a little harder than anything else. I can guarantee that less than 1% of teachers could make it in the real world work force so you may see a larger group retiring, but you won't see large numbers going into another profession. They always claim they need a raise "for the kids ", now the kids need you. Suck it up and get back to work so working parents aren't held hostage by your entitlement.

Sun, 07/12/2020 - 3:16pm

Are you sure it's the teachers that are entitled?
Ad hominem attacks on educators (who aren't even part of the "real-world" work force!) may serve your purposes. They do not, however, make a coherent argument for re-opening schools in August. Please enroll in a logic course and try again.

George Hagenauer
Mon, 07/06/2020 - 10:57am

One thing not talked about a lot is how to organize it so those parents able to keep their children at home can reducing the number of children in schools. In the 1970s one of my unfunded tasks at the non-profit where I worked was doing some minimal support for home schoolers. We found that reducing isolation was a key factor. It seemed to work better if parents were in contact with other parents doing it. This was way before the internet and online or computer based classes. A major problem with many approaches today is that a lot of families can end up being isolated. What I see in a lot of home schooling is essentially marketing of a curriculum or on line service not really setting up a local system to educate children and support families. During the crisis the key thing is that the school system be involved and that they are funded for those children. But stage one is getting parents together. Due to the crisis there are families where children logically may not be able to return to school due to high risk themselves to the virus or because they live with someone who is high risk. Facilitating those families ( and they are probably few) who have those needs and can do home schooling would reduce the number of children in school temporarily and help with social distancing.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 4:33pm

I agree with you. I'd like to stay home, while staying a part of the public school system. However--I actually don't want to do the online thing with my little 1st grader. I wish they would work with parents in a way, side by side--where we can get the work they would be doing at school and record the instructions. Or alternatively, I could do my own thing (I home schooled him for kindergarten so I'm aware of various curriculum available and have some resources at home already) and submit what I do to the school for review. Anyway, nothing they do will please everyone. But I do hope they offer options.

Sunday Lopez
Mon, 07/06/2020 - 10:31pm

I hear you as a mother, but as a school teacher I can not possibly stretch myself that many ways. What you are asking for from already overwhelmed teachers is unreasonable. We are parents and people too.

middle of the mit
Thu, 07/09/2020 - 6:24pm

Sunday Lopez,

Isn't funny how some people think that teachers are underworked and overpaid but now they think you are all superheros that can take of their kids and teach them while they work, and then expect you to go above and beyond what you do already and expose yourselves to a virus and also protect their children from unsavory people who might invade your schools? All the while trying to defund and demean your profession.

Are you superheros?

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:18am

At some point in time, overcrowding of classrooms will need to be addressed. We moved our child out of her school as they had 33 kids in a classroom designed to hold 20-24. The joke of our education system is our children and the push to graduate them to the next level no matter what their grades and knowledge indicate.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:46am

The joke is our children.??

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:58pm


Deborah Moody
Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:54am

It seems to me that rotating semesters might help to lesson the class room burden 6 weeks on 6 weeks off year round. Perhaps even two groups of classes am and pm, with 4 hours each.
I'm sure greater minds than mine have considered this, but just a thought.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 8:47am

For employed parents and their employers, 6 weeks on and 6 weeks off school is almost worse than not reopening school at all. This is especially true for families who have more than one child, who might end up assigned to opposite schedules, meaning parents of elementary schoolers couldn't work outside their homes at all without extreme expense for child care and transportation half the time.

I like your "split shift" school schedule idea better. The high school I attended in the early 1970s had a system of that sort. About 1/2 the students started at 7 am for "first period" and attended school for 5.5 or 6 hours. The other half showed up around 9:30 am and stayed for 5.5 or 6 hours.

Completely separating the morning and afternoon school cohorts makes more sense under current conditions. But it is crucial that schools allow families to choose their time slot to accommodate child care needs and the schedules of other children in the family.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 2:06pm

What about the teachers you’re exposing to this virus? Why does no one care about the teachers? They have to wear mask which does not protect them. But none of the kids are wearing masks to protect their teachers. And what happens when teachers get sick? What if teachers get so sick that they die? How is that going to be handled?

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:14pm

Spot on. This is sick on so many levels. Shame on you Michigan. Shame on all of you. Teachers will die due to your recklessness.

Math Sux
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 12:25pm

Oh, I employees are somehow above the rest of the population that had to work throughout the early stages of the virus.

They are more important than grocery store workers, the men and women of the transportation/logistics industries, and the public safety sector? Is that what you are saying? By that description they almost sound like they are not critical to our life in the US.

That is, of course, ridiculous...the education of our youth IS critical yet all the handwringing about the opening of schools doesn't speak well about a general understanding of calculated risk. Either we open the schools or the State has to consider home schooling as a viable alternative. By following the money trail from property taxes to education, I highly doubt that the State will let that happen. This is about money and the need to ensure a stable education system.

If taxpayers begin to observe longterm relocation of students to homeschooling, questions about school funding will occur and I can foresee a day when demands for lowering taxes become the argument of the day. This is not something an already underfunded system wants to face.

Not a DeVos
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 8:53pm

The vast majority of people cannot home-school, two working parents with multiple jobs each.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 2:59pm

A few rambling thoughts: I have read that over 50% of employees now telecommute, and that most employers are very happy with productivity, etc., even though many of them are also ‘homeschooling.’ (I know it’s horribly difficult; many teacher friends are doing it, too. They are also concerned about going back/sending their kids back to unsafe working conditions.) Unscientific observations and anecdotes in my social circle are that people currently telecommuting ( mostly white collar) have heard no plan to return to in-person work for the foreseeable future, or January at the earliest. So the workers who most need to get back to work, may reside in the school districts which can least afford to make the safest choices for their stakeholders. Equity issues at play yet again.
I’ve seen the stat that only a very small number of cases fall in the 0-19 age range; I would argue that this number is highly underestimated because very mild, asymptomatic cases typical of their ranks are not getting tested and that’s where all of the confirmed case numbers come from- people tested, not everyone who carries the virus. They will be the vectors of the virus in school. Students and school staff will be subject to the three Cs to be AVOIDED according to public health experts: Closed spaces, Crowded spaces, Close-contact; I would add, for extended periods of time.
I’m interested to see the shape school districts will be in when staff members must quarantine and there are no subs available. When teachers’ children have closed schools? Even more crowded spaces? Schools or individual classrooms having to close suddenly (Again)?
I wish more people would be accepting of the fact that the world we knew is not coming back for a long time.

Patience is Virtuous
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:00pm

"I wish more people would be accepting of the fact that the world we knew is not coming back for a long time."

Three years for Spanish Flu in 1918....

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 6:20am

Online schools are the future.
Remote learning was all ready incorporated long before the world faced this virus. The future is change and I believe all schools will eventually go remote as will many traditional jobs. You don’t need to attend a brick and mortar building to get a education in most cases or even many jobs. Public education system has been very outdated (since the 50’s) and has needed a complete overhaul for decades. Traditional career mentality is another change needed. New technology has certainly changed the world..Change is difficult but change is inevitable...the key is adaptation.

Stephan Nason
Thu, 07/09/2020 - 10:24am

Remote learning (home schooling) has been used in Alaska for ages. If I understand correctly, parents at home got lessons, materials and tests to do with their children, WITH the assistance and supervision of a remote educator with various methods of communication between the parent and teacher (often through US Mail in the old days). One wonders how this system works today with better communication and computers?

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 3:24pm

Teachers did not go to school for 5-7 years to provide free babysitting and have their lives put in danger to do so because our government will not provide the resources needed for proper social distancing and hygiene. The reality is many teachers are going to leave the classroom because of this, so we’re simply trading unemployed parents for unemployed teachers. Many students will be taught by rotating substitutes who most likely are not trained to meet their social/emotional, academic, or health needs. And when those subs are not available, schools will be forced to either mix students in with other classes, expose more adults to each group by having support staff teach them, or eventually close. And that’s all without the deaths that will inevitably occur for this free babysitting to take place.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 4:24pm

This is the reason I withdrew my children from public schools and will be homeschooling! Good luck to those that don't have that option. I refuse to send my children to be test dummies. Not happening!

Shaquilla Thompson
Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:01pm

This is not a well thought out plan. My daughter was familiar with the kindergarten who lost her life from COVID; to send her to school in hopes no kid catches it and transmit and she brings it home, is horrible to think about. Plus, kids who have trouble with sinuses or asthma and having to wear a face mask for that long period of time is not going to be comfortable. It has to be a better plan that won’t allow a decline in the learning aspect of our kids schooling.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 9:38pm

We have made the decision if the school district requires our children to wear mask we will not be sending them to school. The school can provide the assignments and we will do them at home.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 8:58pm

So schools are now like Burger King, "Have it your way"?

Wed, 07/22/2020 - 10:33pm

The districts are not requiring masks. The State of Michigan is requiring them for all teachers, all students 6-12 and K-5 students on busses and in hallways. This is when your region is in stage 4. The districts have to comply with the state orders. If an adult or child is medically unable to wear a mask, they need to provide a doctor's note to the school district.

Mon, 07/06/2020 - 11:25pm

Yikes! So we'll be physical distancing EVERYWHERE but schools, and the health and safety of students, staff and families is NOT the determining factor for a return to school this fall. Without a temporary hybrid plan that puts school community SAFETY first, parents and teachers will stay home.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 2:05am

No one has considered the lives of teachers.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:01pm

There are too many and they are all overpaid!

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:43pm

And how much education do you have????over paid so is a uaw worker

Blue Rose
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 5:08am

I am a teacher and make $10- $15 an hour. I know Target workers that make more money than me and do not have to make sure your kids are safe during their shifts. Schools are germy, gross places. They don’t get clean. Despite my luxurious wage, I get to buy supplies for my students and also be a janitor. A lot of us starting out do not get much benefits either. We are also way overworked and have other jobs during the summer because we are not paid much. I guess we get to sacrifice our lives too, since we are not even allowed a plexiglass barrier like grocery workers have. There are solutions. We could teach outside, go to a larger place that is empty or teach online. It is not teachers or schooling that is broken, it is the fact people have to work multiple jobs just to get by when our country should provide good enough pay so one parent could say home with the kids or at least work from home. No one looks at the bigger problem. I expect schools will open for two weeks and then close because of an outbreak. No one seems to think of subs either. Subs go from school to school and only one needs to get COVID and be a super spreader. A lot of subs are college kids just out of school or studying for their Master’s while partying maskless over the weekend. We also have to trust parents taking their kids out of school if they are sick, which does not happen. It seems like a recipe for disaster all around.

Ted Rize
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 6:56am

How about some numbers on different school age students who have contacted covid.Rand Paul from Kentucky puts out a convincing argument for returning to school if his numbers are true they would ease the stress on many parents.

Good One!
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:02pm

Hilarious, Rand Paul!

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 9:41pm

Paul's neighbor made an interesting point, but Rand wasn't listening.

Regina Thompson
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 7:51am

Not safe. No matter children wear mask/ social distance. We are talking a chance of Covid killing our children's.

Thu, 07/09/2020 - 3:49pm

We saw the little girl in Detroit got Covid-19 and died! How can any parent take a chance with their child’s life? Who wants to be the next parent to bury a child? No way

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:00am

It sounds like the safety of our educators and students for that matter isn’t at all cared about. I’m sorry but this whole article is ignorant. It makes no sense. On top of that kids are the most germ spreading carriers ever. No social distancing? But mask? Social distance in the real world but not at school? All these fake funds that are to go to the schools yet it’s never any money for even books. Maybe we should over look the covid 19 issues and figure out why the school system is becoming an entire joke to begin with.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:00am

Gotta keep the free K-12 daycares open no matter the cost.

David Scott
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:15am

Difficult times, difficult choices.
Pushing children into the slaughter chute is not a choice. Economic and political pressures must be unimaginable for the folks that must deal with this. I do not envy them this task. However, there are going to be catastrophic consequences this fall and winter as a result of opening schools. November can’t come soon enough but for covid-19’s casualties and dead it will be too late. This is not the flu.
This is the way we will live and die for the foreseeable future. New models for education and occupations will be needed. Woe to those that are sacrificed during this time of confusion and division.
God have mercy on us.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:05pm


Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:19am

There are not enough resources to follow this plan! Yes, staff and students will be at risk. Yes, inevitably COVID will be brought home to family members. I know several teachers who are making the tough decision of leaving their career over this. If anyone thinks substitute teachers are an alternative, there has been a severe substitute teacher shortage for several years now. I would be shocked to see an influx of people sign up to be a substitute teacher earning approximately $75 - $100 per day to risk being in this environment. This is a recipe for disaster.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 10:58am

So, schools have to adapt to accommodate working parents (in class vs online). Employers don't have to adapt and accommodate working parents?

Marsha Crawford
Tue, 07/07/2020 - 12:18pm

This article contains not a single word about concerns for the health of teachers.

Tue, 07/07/2020 - 9:37pm

I love how teachers are apparently just sacrificial lambs so that parents can have daycare for their children while they go to work. Never in my life could I have imagined the disaster that the United States has become.

So tired of GOP
Wed, 07/08/2020 - 11:09am

"I have imagined the disaster that the United States has become."

"Trump 2016: What have you got to lose?"

Wed, 07/08/2020 - 8:51pm

What an idiot. Now the kids are going to go back and get infected, and then go home to their parents or possibly grandparents and kill them. And its possible theyll also get brain damage from it too, since scientists have already linked coronavirus with some form of brain damage. Doing online school would be cheaper than going back, they would just have to provide laptops and hotspots to kids without internet and pay the teachers still. They would save a lot of money on fuel from the busses, the kids wouldnt get sick, and paying for the technology is actually much cheaper than running the school in person. Lets also not forget how schools will hide things and cover up every negative thing that happens in their district so they might try hiding the fact people are sick too. And with school lunches, it wouldnt be hard to provide a delivery service of food using the bus routes, and drop off a week of lunches/breakfasts at a time for the families who depend on that program

Paul Jordan
Wed, 07/08/2020 - 10:43pm

Reopening in this fashion might make sense in some parts of the state where the virus is under control--but not in other parts. Right now I'm living in Oceana County, which has the second highest rate of infection (behind Wayne County). Unless there were a serious lock down during August to control the virus, there is no way that reopening schools in this fashion will be safe.
And people in this county won't even wear masks...

James Jett
Fri, 07/10/2020 - 9:45am

This entire plan is foolish, all of this is going,to kill the poorest of our population. This is all about the wealthy, if the poor are not working they lose money..Wow. Shameful. Killing for profit.

Vince Caruso
Sun, 07/12/2020 - 11:29am

What's not being considered are the long-term effects children may have due to exposure to Covid. It may have o or mild symptoms now but later have more debilitating illnesses.
What was commented earler, no discussion on health effects on teachers is not acceptable.

Tue, 07/14/2020 - 12:50pm

I'm not a parent or an educator but my mom was an educator for nearly 35 years. I do have four nephews that our of school age. Like my brother said how do you get a five, seven and nine year old boys to wear a mask. You just don't. They don't understand social distancing. My 15 year old nephew probably does. But for the younger kids it will be mass chaos they will want to play with friends. Go out and touch all playground equipment at recess. And just be kids. Unless they understand the basic concepts of disease, what contagious means, and why were social distancing. They should stay home. Anyone under middle school age should not be going back in the fall because they don't have the judgement to make good descions. And teachers can't watch them all the time to make sure they do. As for teachers they are the real superheroes here. No amount of pay is enough for what a good teacher does for your child. One last thing parents a good education starts with you. You may not be a rocket scientist but instilling common sense and good moral values is something you definitely do at home.

Daniel 28
Wed, 07/15/2020 - 2:02pm

My neighbor's friend went to go get tested for Covid-19. He checked in. He sat for two hours and waited. Then after waiting for two hours he left. Then two days later he got a letter. Saying he tested positive for Covid-19. Wake up people! The numbers are being messed with. Did you know that a hospital gets federal money for every Covid-19 death. So if there's any question in the doctor's mind what do you think he's going to put on the death certificate.

Tue, 07/21/2020 - 8:19pm

Anyone under retirement age (or over retirement age with no terminal/life threatening disease) is at more risk of dying in a car accident than of coronavirus. Children are hundreds (if not thousands) of times more likely to die in a car accident than of coronavirus.
I don't see anyone wanting to get rid of cars, so changing anything in the school system from "business as usual" wouldn't make any sense. If there are teachers with underlying health conditions that put them at significant risk, they should be furloughed, that would only be a tiny percentage of teachers and they could easily be replaced by temps until a vaccine emerges (if it ever does).
I don't know why people are freaking out about the schools. We've lost ten times as many children to the flu than to coronavirus in the past 6 months.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 9:31pm

I can’t believe that there is no thought given about the 50 plus Teachers, all Teachers. Why are they the sacrificial lambs? Because you need them to watch your children, while you work from home? At an office?

Thu, 08/13/2020 - 8:40am

When is the last time a politician stepped inside an elementary school with 500 pre K and K 5. Try it sometime. You might see things alittle differently. That also goes for our President. Rl.