Michigan re-orders schools to disclose COVID cases after Supreme Court ruling

Starting next week, parents, and everyone else, will have the ability to look up how many coronavirus cases are in their local schools. (Shutterstock)

Michigan schools will still be required to publicly report coronavirus cases, even after the state Supreme Court struck down an executive order mandating the disclosure.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order Tuesday mandating that schools publicly report all coronavirus cases in their schools within 24 hours of confirmation of a positive test.

The order requires local health departments to notify schools within 24 hours of learning of a probable or confirmed school-associated case of COVID-19. Upon notification, schools must disclose cases prominently on the school’s website.

The order also encourages schools to provide information about measures in place at the school to prevent transmission of COVID-19, as well as measures that individuals can take to prevent transmission. 

“Recent outbreaks throughout the country demonstrate that COVID-19 can spread quickly in the school setting,” Robert Gordon, director of MDHHS, said in a statement announcing the order. “Timely communication from schools to parents, guardians, students, teachers, staff and other persons affiliated with schools enables members of the school community to take measures to prevent spread of the virus.”

The order comes four days after a similar school reporting mandate by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was thrown into limbo when the Michigan Supreme Court invalidated all her executive orders after April 30.

Under Whitmer’s executive order, schools were required to begin disclosing coronavirus cases Monday. 

The new health department order goes into effect Oct. 12.

Some Michigan Republicans contend that health department orders about the coronavirus also could be voided by the ruling. 

But the latest order could come as a relief to parents, who currently have no guaranteed, real-time information on coronavirus cases in their community schools.

As of Oct. 1, there were 296 coronavirus cases that were tallied as part of school outbreaks, according to a state report released Monday. That figure doesn’t include individual COVID-19 cases that don’t meet the definition of an outbreak, which is two or more cases connected to a place and time outside of a household. The new health department rule requires schools to report all cases, not just infections that are part of an outbreak.

Schools are required to work with local health departments to contact and isolate students and staff who have come in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, but are not currently required to disclose cases to the community at large.

Whitmer faced criticism for initially declining to identify schools with COVID-19 outbreaks as students returned for the fall semester. Following reporting by Bridge Michigan and other news outlets, and a letter from a coalition of news and government transparency advocates, MDHHS began to list schools with outbreaks earlier in September, but only on a weekly basis. 

The coalition, known as the Michigan School-Related COVID Outbreak Transparency Coalition, which includes Bridge Michigan, BridgeDetroit and The Center for Michigan, among dozens of groups, pressed the state to notify families and their communities more immediately. 

Critics noted that weekly announcements can mean significant delays between the time an infection is first confirmed and when the public is notified of an outbreak. 

State officials balked at being required to post more real-time infection info, saying that health officials already have too many demands during the pandemic.

Whitmer instead is putting the onus on K-12 schools, ordering them to publish information on coronavirus cases.

Monday, the Whitmer administration moved to reinstate the state’s mask mandate through Oct. 30, through an order issued by the state health department. Officials said to expect more orders from the health department that mimicked Whitmer’s executive orders in the coming days.

Some schools aren’t waiting for a state order to take effect. As of Tuesday, Kent County school districts, including Grand Rapids Public Schools, are reporting the number of cases and number of students and staff in isolation on the website of the Kent Intermediate School District.

“Transparency with positive cases will keep our communities safer,” Kevin Polston, superintendent of Godfrey-Lee Public Schools in Kent County, wrote on Twitter when the Kent COVID tracker was posted. 

“We need to take the stigma away from COVID, and encourage everyone to get tested if displaying symptoms.”

Some individual school districts around the state, including Gibraltar School District in Wayne County and Marquette Area Schools in the Upper Peninsula, began posting real-time coronavirus data on their websites last week.

 

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Comments

Jake K
Wed, 10/07/2020 - 11:24am

So as expected, state and local health departments will now promote the Whitmer agenda...with impunity? Nice play, since now the heat is off Whitmer and her minions. She can now continue her anti-administration and pro-Dem campaigning while hoping for a high level fed position if the Dems win the presidency.

middle of the mit
Wed, 10/07/2020 - 10:53pm

Some Michigan Republicans contend that health department orders about the coronavirus also could be voided by the ruling.
--------------------------------------------------

Did Bridge contract COVID? Can't you smell something?

But the latest order could come as a relief to parents, who currently have no guaranteed, real-time information on coronavirus cases in their community schools.
--------------------

How and why?

The coalition, known as the Michigan School-Related COVID Outbreak Transparency Coalition, which includes Bridge Michigan, BridgeDetroit and The Center for Michigan, among dozens of groups, pressed the state to notify families and their communities more immediately.
-----------------------------------------

They now KNOW who they have to look to, because those same people just tied the Governors hands! Look to those who Want Power, yet know not what to do with it...unless it benefits themselves!

Whitmer instead is putting the onus on K-12 schools, ordering them to publish information on coronavirus cases.
__________________________________

AS did an earlier Bridge article

https://www.bridgemi.com/michigan-government/state-officials-too-busy-re...

Say hello to; Here we are! HI!

When I was in school? NO one looked to the State. Just to brush some old talking points from the party I used to be a member of...................the party that governs closest, governs best. I NEVER woke up and looked to State TV for school closings. Me and my sisters argued over who got to stand next to the heater until one of our parents told us to rotate like hot dogs..........but when it snowed? WE were all waiting to see if the TV and our local school district was going to close school that day.

Why isn't that how it works? That IS where the MI media conglomerate NEEDS to fixate it's addiction. That is where I went to find if school was closed. I waited for the school to report it to the news.

Why is this different?

Now Hammer Mr Shirkey and Mr Chatfield on how they are going to handle their new found responsiblity! They asked for it. They sued for it!

It's theirs!

GIVE IT TO 'EM!

Don't let the public down. Push them just like you pushed the Governor........unless you think that non answers are acceptable. Because you and I both know............that is all you are going to get from them.............a little truth sprinkled within a pile of lies!

Anyone thinks that is wrong........including your reporters?

You wonder why people won't debate me except duane? duane is trying to tell us that he doesn't know what caused gravity. Did you like my excerpt on why Amelia Earhardt was never found? They can't defend themselves when I have the ability to search for their falsities.

And they can't beat me. Why? Because even though I am a Bernie and Elizabeth Warren supporter..........considered....faaaaaaaaaaaaar left wing........as per the definition of a Republican that the founding fathers gave?

IKE was a debatable true Republican. Bill Milliken was a True Republican.

But today? According to that definition that our founding fathers gave us? This faaaaar leftist, who....if he ever registered.......is registered as a Republican! And due to that fact.............I might very well be the LAST Republican that fits the definition OUR Founding Fathers gave of a Republican!!!

THAT HAS GOT TO HURT!!!!

Guess what? IDC!!!