Michigan school districts push back on GOP plan for elementary classes

Some Michigan school districts are choosing to be fully online in the fall, setting up a game of chicken with the Legislature. (Bridge file photo)

Update: Michigan superintendent: Don’t force schools to resume in-person classes
Online event: What will K-12 education in Michigan look like this fall? Join us to discuss.

Public school buildings in Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and Lansing will remain shuttered for the beginning of the school year, joining a growing number of school districts defying a Republican legislative plan that threatens the loss of state funding if schools don’t offer a classroom option for elementary students.

Grand Rapids Public Schools Superintendent Leadriane Roby announced in a letter to families and staff Monday she is recommending the 14,000-student district be remote-learning only through Oct. 21, with a decision made later on how to proceed after that date.

“We said that the health, safety, and well-being of our students and staff would be our top priority in decision making,” Roby wrote to parents and staff. “I believe starting with distance learning is the safest approach to the start of school.

In a similar announcement last week, Ann Arbor Superintendent Jeanice Swift said her district would start the year with full-remote learning, but without an end date yet set. “We just watched national and locally, all of these starting dates (for in-class instruction) get blown through by the virus,”Swift said. “Our overarching goal is having our community safe and not have our families experience more disruption” if schools are ordered to close as they were in March.

Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids are two of the 10 largest school districts in the state. Other districts that recently announced they will begin the year as they ended last year – with full homebound learning – include Lansing, Waverly, East Lansing, Holt and Okemos school districts in Ingham County, and Melvindale in Wayne County.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s school reopening plan allows districts to plot their own strategy for the fall, as long as minimum safety protocols are put in place, such as face masks for staff and middle and high school students if most of the state remains in Phase 4 of pandemic recovery.

If the state improves to Phase 5, many of the safety requirements become “strong recommendations.” If the coronavirus cases increase and the state lurches back to Phase 3, schools will be ordered to close and return to remote learning.

While the governor’s reopening plan allows schools to choose remote learning for all students, a series of Republican-sponsored school reopening bills that  passed the House last week do not.

One of the bills, now awaiting debate in the Senate, requires schools to offer the option of in-classroom instruction for students in kindergarten through fifth grade.

Children typically do not become seriously ill if they contract coronavirus. Also, even some school leaders acknowledge the pressure to bring elementary students back into classrooms, so that parents can return to work. In fact, one of the main reasons that social distancing in classrooms wasn’t required in Whitmers’ back-to-school plan was because keeping students six feet apart would not allow schools to return all students at the same time.

If the Republican bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by Whitmer, schools that keep their buildings closed due to the ongoing pandemic would risk losing state funds.

Whitmer has not directly said whether she opposes the K-5 class requirement in the GOP bill, but in her school reopening plan released June 30, in-person instruction was not required.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shrikey, R-Clarklake, said Monday in a radio interview that he hopes to negotiate details of a school reopening plan with Whitmer and send her bills to sign Aug. 6.

"Our next session day is Aug. 6, and it is our intent at that point in time to pass a series of bills to the governor specifically related to school start,” Shirkey said in a radio interview Monday. “Very important is the definition of how do they [schools] count the number of kids, and therefore that translates into what their funding is. We have to remove that uncertainty now so that schools can begin to plan. My goal is to send a package to the governor on Aug. 6 that outlines what the Legislature AND the governor's office have worked out. And hopefully we'll get a lot of the uncertainty resolved so the schools and parents can start planning for the fall."

The current Republican bill requires schools to offer in-school instruction for K-5 students in order to receive a waiver for seat-time requirements that are used to determine student funding. Those seat-time requirements mandate that schools have 75 percent of students in school to receive funding.

State Rep. Pamela Hornberger, R-Chesterfield Township, which is in Macomb County, told Bridge Monday that it’s “very scary” to have schools continue with remote learning.

“I’ve talked to a lot of parents who are skeptical of what school will look like if it is only online,” Hornberger said. “If it’s the same thing as this spring, they don’t want it.”

Hornberger, who is a former teacher, said she knows the switch to remote learning was a “heavy lift” for schools in the spring, who had to create online lessons in a matter of days when Whitmer ordered all schools closed in mid-March. “I don’t know a lot of districts that are completely ready even this fall.”

School leaders expect many students will suffer a large learning loss from being out of classrooms for almost six months, and Hornberger said she is concerned that continued remote learning will exacerbate that learning deficit.

Dayna Polehanki, D-Livonia, who is also a former teacher, blasted the GOP plan. “Passing a sweeping law that requires students in grades K-5 to have in-person instruction no matter which MI Safe Start phase Michigan finds itself in during any given point in the upcoming school year is unsafe, and I won’t support it,” Polehanki told Bridge in an email Monday.

Whitmer spokesperson Robert Leddy did not address directly what the governor’s response would be to a bill requiring schools to offer the option of  in-person K-5 instruction. Leddy accused the Republican-controlled Legislature of trying to “undermine” the governor’s plan that was developed by a task force made up of educators and community and health officials.

“As educators are developing their lesson plans to prepare for any contingency this fall, the least the legislature can do is provide clarity on the number of days and hours required for instruction, and ensure that schools won’t be penalized if attendance fluctuates,” Leddy said in an email.

John Helmholdt, spokesperson for Grand Rapids Public Schools, said district leaders were aware their plan runs afoul of the GOP school reopening bill.

“We’ve said publicly, any decision-making is going to be based on the safety of our students, families and staff,” Helmholdt said. Starting the school year with remote-only learning “is the most prudent and safest route.

“Last spring was (unprecedented) for Michigan schools, and we believe we are still in these unprecedented times,” Helmholdt told Bridge Monday. “We hope the governor and our friends in the Legislature provide the opportunity for districts to have the flexibility” to create their own reopening plans.

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Mon, 07/27/2020 - 7:50pm

By 2022 the Republican Party will be extinct. Nobody cares to hear ridiculous threats by Republicans when it comes to the safety of our children. Republicans don't like the fact that they've become irrelevant in leading the country out of the cesspool that they've created.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:00am

From your keyboard to God's ears!

Online Classes!
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 8:17am

No kidding. Major league baseball players who are adults playing outside can't go a few days without getting infected and shutting down, how can we expect schools to stay open longer than a few days with kids being kids indoors? We saw how it didn't work in Israel where people are much more disciplined, how can we expect success in the do-what-feels-good USA?

Mon, 07/27/2020 - 9:14pm

There is no flexibility with the teachers unions. This has nothing to do with the kids and everything to do with the teachers unions. Democrat controlled teachers unions.

Oakland County Mom
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:05am

Jason, as a parent, I completely disagree with you. Now some children are showing polio-like symptoms from a virus that may be related to covid. My kids and family will not be Trump's guinea pigs, nor do I want to put their teachers and their families unduly in harm's way. I prefer keeping local control of our schools.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 1:59pm

I am also a parent. And the minuscule risk is completely outweighed by the devastating effect of not being in school. The American Association of Pediatrics has stated kids need to be in school...

Oakland County Mom
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:25pm

Cherry pick much? American Association of Pediatrics clarified that schools should open only if they are able to follow CDC guidelines which Trump is trying to silence and water down. Parent? Are your children school-aged, attending public schools? Districts will open for in-person classes only if parents are willing to send their children and I don't know any parents who feel their districts are safe enough right now. Good luck with your district.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 7:47am

Yes. I have school age children. Yes they attend public school. Yes I think they are safe. Yes I think they need to physically be in schools.
Cherry pick? The largest association of pediatric doctors in the country? I guess if that’s cherry picking, but there’s also that science and data we like to ignore. Like the infection, severity, and death rate of children is so low they have a better chance of being in a bus accident on the way to school. There is absolutely no way to mitigate all risk in life. This virus has made people lose there minds. And for what? .00048 percent of the population that died?

Oakland County Mom
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:42pm

Those phony "statistics" are complete lies and undermine the myriad of problems short of death. You cherry picked the part that ignores the American Association of Pediatrics clarifying that schools should open ONLY if they are able to follow CDC guidelines which Trump is trying to silence and water down. Perhaps you also believe Trump's witch doctor who believes vaccinations are laced with alien DNA and dream demons. If you want your children to learn that kind of "science", you'd be better homeschooling. Public schools teach real science.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 8:00am

The danger isn't for the children. It's for staff including a high school teacher who will be exposed to about 120 students a day.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 11:52am

The dangers are for all. In Florida an otherwise healthy 9 yr old girl just died from covid19 and school is not even open. Many children have underlying conditions themselves or their families, siblings with special needs, intergenerational families, etc. Face it a huge part of our population is obese. We keep hearing how this is a hoax from people who end up testing positive.

Michigan Observer
Thu, 07/30/2020 - 8:47pm

Just what does Oakland County Mom consider "safe enough"? One chance in a thousand of a fatality? One chance in ten thousand? One chance in a hundred thousand? What level is safe enough for her? Does she drive in traffic at seventy miles an hour? Isn't that considerably than driving at twenty-five miles an hour? Yet, I suspect that she accepts that risk every day. Is that degree of risk safe enough for her children?

Oakland County Mom
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 3:58pm

Perhaps no risk of an outbreak causing the schools to shut down or have half the scheduled attendee be home sick or quarantining for two weeks. What is safe enough for you? In your mind, should students who test positive quarantine? What about students that were in contact with those that tested positive? Do you have any practical logistical thoughts beyond your useless unfounded "statistics"? It seems extremely narrow-minded to focus exclusively on deaths. There are a myriad of other complications and adverse effects which have been stated numerous times, despite your refusal to acknowledge them. Just ask Chuck Woolery or Louie Gohmert or Herman Cain, wait, too late for that one, but you get the idea.

A 9-year-old who died of coronavirus had no known underlying health issues, family says

Jackie C.
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 4:58am

Only time will tell if the risk is "minuscule" or not. Of course in a pre-covd 19 time kids need to be in school. But because you don't mind putting your kids at a possibly minuscule risk please know not all parents feel the same. Maybe we can explore all options.

Ya think?
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:54pm

No options until January, 2021, with our increasingly authoritarian president. Enabled by his anti-science sycophants, he feels he knows more than someone with Fauci's background. Instead he trusts some crackpot voodoo minister who just got her medical license last fall in Texas after training in Nigeria.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:19pm

Now the president is fiddling with our post office to disrupt absentee voting and remain in power.

Sun, 08/09/2020 - 7:18am

you are not the one who will be with 30 kids every day and a whole school full of kids that might infect that teacher and anyone who comes in contact with them. You are ridiculous and short sighted

andrew bommarito
Mon, 07/27/2020 - 11:06pm

It would certainly be very interesting to find out how many of theses republican sycophants actually send their own children to these public schools, and would continue to do so if the schools are forced to open against their will.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 6:30pm

I expect to send my kid to school. Full 5 day.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 4:53am

Schools won't open for one child. So cross your fingers that other parents also care so little for their children. My guess is that most private schools will also be closed. In the end, you'll have two choices online through a school or online homeschooling.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:52pm

Check and make sure that you have the funds to bury him/her as well. That is what it could cost you.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:28pm

I don't believe that poster has a child.

Wed, 08/12/2020 - 6:29pm

drama much? Sending your kid to school...oh no...they'll DIE!!!!

Jackie C.
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 5:05am

Perhaps these people should also be willing to baby sit kids when they are ill. Or volunteer at schools to cover lunchtime.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 10:23am

Sycophants? I’m just a regular, right leaning dad, who thinks kids should be in school because the data shows even if the kids get it, it barely affects them. Yes some kids get more sick than others, just like every other disease. Yes sometimes people die when they get sick. That’s how life works...you cannot live in fear.

John D
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 12:45pm

Then why do we allow homeschooling if kids should be in school? What do you have against local school districts deciding?

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 4:22pm

Pay no attention to GOP hypocrisy.

Face it
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:57am

"While the governor’s reopening plan allows schools to choose remote learning for all students, a series of Republican-sponsored school reopening bills that passed the House last week do not."

Republicans like a one-size-fits-all approach to government. Who cares what local people think?

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:31pm

It's called GOP hypocrisy. Ironic how Chatfield is okay with that, the big Trump supporter and religious poser that he is. Of course, his family probably home-schools their children. Crazy how he could attend such a conservative religious college and have no problem with hypocrisy.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 2:44am

This is honestly ridiculous and shows how snobbish and incredibly entitled Michiganders are. Not everyone can afford internet. Not everyone has a way to get to free wifi. Having both options open to the parents to decide what is right for their children would be best. Not a one size fits all regardless of parents' opinions and financial status is. So sick of this state. I moved here from Arizona and y'all are a bunch of brats.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 10:57am

You say parents should decide. What about teachers! We KNOW children can carry and pass on the virus......who is speaking with the teachers, many of whom have their own children?

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:33pm

Exactly, teachers are often parents themselves and deserve to be heard both for themselves and their children.

Jackie C.
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 5:13am

Let's add more parenting jobs to teachers! Heavens it's not like teachers have so much to do. Maybe all politicians should substitute teach one day a week.

Common sense
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 3:32pm

It’s funny you should mention teachers. One of my favorite Covidmania stories I recently read was about a very vocal teacher out west. She was adamant that he should not be required to teach because a student might infect her. She was then spotted out to eat at a local restaurant and her server and others working there to provide her food were her students!! Ha!

I call BS
Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:27pm

Nothing funny about lies and exaggerations. Even if it were true, and I doubt it, eating a meal in a restaurant is not the same as being in school all day with hundreds, if not thousands, of students. Also, waitstaff were probably wearing masks. BTW are you Chuck Woolery? Such a funny guy!

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:00am

Arizona? Have you been keeping up with the news or do you think it's all fake?

Change is GOOD
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:09am

How about we provide free highspeed internet to all in the country, instead of all the other handouts? That way we can all get equal education and business opportunities, but then we won't have a desperate insecure under class of people who will essentially work themselves to an early death for the pleasure of selfish Republicans. You know what I mean, an unending extension of our original sin of slavery, Jim Crow, redlining, and now police state of the BLM movement.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:23am

Go back to AZ

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:22am

Does anyone really feel it's safe to return kids to buildings and classrooms during a surging pandemic? And without physical distancing and face masks requirements? GOP executive leadership has failed to keep the US safe, with Covid19 surging across the country. And we're to believe that the Michigan GOP has a PLAN. Give Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and other districts credit for looking out for the safety of their communities. Let local districts decide what's best for them. As Michiganders know, we can negotiate this pandemic safely and responsibly, despite the failing efforts of others.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:11am

Trump won only because of the electoral college. So it doesn't matter what the majority of Americans think or want as long as there is gerrymandering.

Common sense
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 3:23pm

You can’t gerrymander a state- sheesh! You might wanna join your kids for online K-12 classes!

Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:00pm

Good burn, show that guy who acts so smug.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 7:07am

Why doesn’t Mich.gov publish age of patients tied to V19 tests, infections, hospital stay, and deaths on a daily basis? It’s the first question asked in any visit.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 10:03am

It's easier to scare people with fear tactics than with the facts.

Trumpy Dreams
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:31am

Imagine how great things could be if only we could "slow the testing down."

Margaret Petersen
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 1:59pm

You can find this information at the county level, at least in my county (Washtenaw). Here is the link - scroll down a bit to see the table of cases by age. https://www.washtenaw.org/3108/Cases Note that the lab confirmed percent of cases for Washtenaw County for the 0 to 17 y/o age group is 5% of the total; if you add cases for 18 to 24 y/o, the two groups together total 19%. These two groups are a much smaller percentage of those who have been hospitalized, but as another comment to this thread noted younger people can pass along the disease to older persons, such as teachers. Personally, as the parent of a 14 y/o, I'm hugely disappointed that there will not be "in school" learning, but I totally understand why. I haven't spoken with a single teacher who is happy with online learning - as I think was also noted in the same comment farther below. The school system and the teachers union are following the science and are minimizing health risks to students AND to teachers and school staff, not to mention to all of the families of all of the foregoing. I get it. I don't have to like the online learning situation, but I get it and I support the decision (for our child's school system, the AAPS), and throwing shots at "the other side" in many of these and other online discussions is really, really getting old.

Oakland County Mom
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:41pm

I completely agree with everything you posted. Thank you for explaining the complexities of the situation in a rational and kind way.

Tue, 08/04/2020 - 2:56pm

I am a retired teacher - 38 years - music. The thought of me being in a classroom with 22-31 students X 10 classes a day is frightening. We make music. Singing is one of the most contagious ways to spread the virus. I would be exposed to 220-310 students per day and they would be exposed to me. I do NOT see how I can remain SAFE or how I could provide safety for them. Yes, I could wear a mask and shield the whole day - which I probably would but that does NOT guarantee safety for them or me. I noticed today that Republican senators came down with positive Covid tests and they cancelled their in person meetings. If it is not safe for them how are they expecting it to be safe for students? Teachers? Families? And why are they threatening to with hold money if we do not return to in person schools. Can we threaten them with no pay if they do not attend in person political obligations? This is NOT care for Michiganders. This is power and control and not what is best for all. Yes, kids need to be in school and parents need to work. Can we create a SAFER way? Smaller class sizes, more room, distancing, masks and hygiene? I am so glad I am not going back to school but worry for my grand children and teachers and all families.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 7:38am

"Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids are two of the 10 largest school districts in the state. Other districts that recently announced they will begin the year as they ended last year – with full homebound learning – include Lansing, Waverly and Okemos school districts in Ingham County, and Melvindale in Wayne County."

The teacher unions have clearly spoken and their message has obviously been received loud and clear by the respective school boards.

At least they didn't lard up their return to school "demands" with a wish list of totally unrelated items.




Whether or not Michigan Parents agree with their paranoia remains to be seen.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:47pm

When Obamacare passed, Republicans warned us of "death panels." What they failed to mention is that Republicans would be forming the death panels. They are absolutely uninterested in public health, but instead exclusively interested in selfishly making money. If anything, Covid-19 shed light on the true feelings of Republicans for all to see with clarity. They have absolutely no regard for the least among us.

Jim Reynolds
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:51pm

All the more reason to address these health concerns with more competency.

Kevin Grand
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 4:52pm

I'm missing the connection here.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:45pm

Children are susceptible to both covid and other viruses that demand our attention.

Kevin Grand
Thu, 07/30/2020 - 4:14pm

And this is different from the other previous contagious pandemics how?

People acting all shocked and surprised should do a little more reading before taking what the media is spoon-feeding them at face value.

Does TB, Ebola or Swine Flu ring a bell?

Dear Lord!
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:03pm

At this point, there's no hope for you if you haven't learned the differences between TB, Ebola, Swine Flu or Covid-19. You're either willfully ignorant or dumb like a rock.

Kevin Grand
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 8:35pm

I'll just take your answer as positive confirmation that you HAVE NOT done any reading whatsoever regarding any previous pandemics.

Spoiler alert: America has had more than one!

And everyone didn't lose their sanity during that time and demanded that everything shut down for months on end.

Funny how things turned out after each example above.

Matt G
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:10pm

Hey Kevin,

Speaking of paranoia, how are you doing with vaccination these days? The last few weeks you've posted some pretty serious anti vaxx stuff here. Do you feel it's hypocritical to call the teachers unions paranoid while we have large swaths of the public loudly denying science whenever it doesn't suit their politics?

Kevin Grand
Thu, 07/30/2020 - 4:16pm

So, are you going to cite something specific?

Or, just take me out of context and call it a day?

Kevin Grand
Mon, 08/03/2020 - 7:48am

Distractions aside, this begs the obvious question: Does their claim work?

When you have the media spike the story of a potential treatment/cure in mere hours after its announcement, without vetting the veracity of their claims, people SHOULD take notice as to why they should do such a thing? What was also NOT reported: The doctors' claim extends to those at high risk (i.e. comorbidities & elderly).

Even The Bridge like to place Wuhan deaths first and foremost in its constant reporting on this topic.

The fact that even THEY won't touch an issue like this, one that would greatly diminish/eliminate Wuhan is very telling.

middle of the mit
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 8:21am

[[[[If the Republican bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by Whitmer, schools that keep their buildings closed due to the ongoing pandemic would risk losing state funds.


Shouldn't the title be "Republicans threaten to defund schools if students aren't allowed to be disease vectors"?








Not to mention conservatives do know that there are adults that run the schools, don't they?

At least we know they don't mind DEFUNDING Schools and Children or putting them in harms way!

Abe Bubush
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 8:45am

Just remember, school is NOT child-care.

George Hagenauer
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 9:01am

Not mentioned here is the political arguments basically will lead to a lot of learning problems for children come fall which is about a month away . Teachers tend to use the summer to plan and develop lesson plans for the next school year especially if there are major changes. My son-in-law is a high school teacher who can teach any number of levels and classes. As of late July he doesn't even know what classes he is teaching much less if they will be online or in class or something mixed. A decision mid August is not much time to rewrite a years worth of lessons, restructure physically your classroom etc. practice teaching on line. And all of this is against the backdrop that there are children who will not be able to return to school anyway due to high risk health issues and need to be accommodated. We need legislators who understand what work is involved in the activities they fund and who will listen to the people who actually need to do that work.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 9:58am

Google Israel, Covid, schools. Israel already did the experiment. They had Covid under control and it was a disaster when the schools were done reopened. I actually hope we can partially open the schools on a rotating basis, but then distancing (And masks) will keep people safe. Follow the science!

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 10:14am

Distance learning does not require internet. We accommodated families that did not have internet. The data shows that children are not at significant risk unless they already have a co-morbid condition. Having children in schools is not really a huge issue. The problem is that these kids can infect teachers who may have risk factors including their age, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and any other number of health issues that place them in harms way. An average high school teacher will be exposed to over 120 students per day. Unfortunately, high school students are also the group that tend to be the least careful in social distancing and mask wearing. I don't know of any teachers who prefer distance learning. They face the same challenges other parents do. They are trying to teach while their own children are at home. Teachers enjoy interacting with their students. Getting high quality substitute teachers is already difficult. Finding one to replace a teacher who falls ill to COVID will be incredibly difficult. If people are interested in having schools start with students attending in the building it would help if they did their part by social distancing and wearing masks. These are pretty small sacrifices to make for the Common Good. It's tiresome to have people that approach me telling me what I should be doing about starting the school year when they personally do nothing to protect themselves or others with some small sacrifices.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:00am

Well said.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:21am

A lot of good points, thanks

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:14am

Who are you going to believe, science denying sycophants who pledge their allegiance to a lying, cheating conman, or medical doctors whose only allegiance is to keep us all safe ?

Yay Melvindale
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 11:28am

I applaud Melvindale and hope other Metro Detroit school districts follow suit.

Online Saves Lives
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:02pm

Parents and teachers agree.

Just the Facts
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 12:02pm

There are about 2.25 million Michiganders under the age of 20 in the state. Total COVID-related deaths in this group is hard to find because the number is so small. Perhaps as few as 4-5 maybe as many as 20 or so.

The actual physical, emotional and educational harm done by keeping kids out of school far outweighs the risk to them from COVID.

If teachers feel they are at too high risk to continue to teach, well, the answer is obvious. Retire or find another career. Kids shouldn't be sacrificed for adults who have other options.

No nonsense
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:58pm

Your numbers mean nothing because the children have been isolating. Besides the standard is not death. Getting the virus causes collateral weakening of the body.

middle of the mit
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 4:02pm

[[[The actual physical, emotional and educational harm done by keeping kids out of school far outweighs the risk to them from COVID.]]]

Is this a call to stop all homeschooling? What is the difference?

Good Call!
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:47pm

Yep, time to ban homeschooling.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 9:04am

Your suggestion that teachers simply retire indicates to me that you don't have an especially strong sense of what the marketplace is for high quality instructors. Every year our organization works diligently to hire high quality staff. The talent pool is very limited. It used to be that conversations for potential candidates at universities were held in large settings. Now they are often held in a classroom setting. There are lots of reasons for this, but there is not time to address this in this space. I am potentially losing an AP calculus instructor because of concern for their own welfare. The classes taught by this person results in scores of 4s and 5s and mostly 5s which is the highest score possible. This is going to be tremendous loss for us. To glibly suggest that any teachers that are concerned for their own health and welfare should just retire is not a solution. It actually creates a greater problem. When we hire we are potentially looking at someone who is going to be in the profession for many years. High quality talented instructors that effectively mentor and instruct students are not a dime a dozen.

Thu, 07/30/2020 - 12:37pm

Unlike GOP sycophants who enable Trump, DeVos, McConnell, Kavanaugh, Putin...

Michigan Observer
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 2:28pm

The article quotes the spokesman for the Grand Rapids school district as saying, "“We’ve said publicly, any decision-making is going to be based on the safety of our students, families and staff,” Helmholdt said. Starting the school year with remote-only learning “is the most prudent and safest route." But he failed to define "safety". How much added safety is required to justify the loss in educational results from using remote learning rather than in person learning? Is it a reduction in risk of ten fatalities per hundred thousand to nine fatalities per hundred thousand ? To five per hundred thousand? To one? Just what is the cost/benefit ratio that is considered acceptable?

just wondering
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 3:53pm

ill just squeeze this in here. can i get rebate on my property taxes if the schools close

In sum, NO
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:52pm

School is online. Can I get a rebate on my federal taxes because Trump failed to protect the homeland from viral invasion and cyber war? Instead he's sending in the secret police to gas people for first amendment protesting and alleged graffiti. This is how fascism starts, assisted by the lying AG Barr who should be disbarred and jailed.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 4:01pm

No proof students lost any learning, but if they did it's because of stubborn adults who refuse to socially distance and wear masks. In any case, I hope students learn ONE thing: Love one another as I have loved you or treat others as you would like to be treated.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 1:03pm

There is much more to learn in life, than subjects in school. I bet this will be our next GREATEST GENERATION, completely different from the spoiled babyboomers who feel so entitled and selfish, you know the "Greed is Good" and "slavery built this great nation" generation. Such of sad nasty lot! I'm talking about the hippies that sold out, not the people who fought for change.

William C. Plumpe
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 2:57pm

Maybe the virus has given us a glimpse of the future of public education.
Technological advances have modernized manufacturing and will eventually modernize public education.
On line learning with tie ins to public tv will become the norm not the exception.
In person class will be one or two days a week with the rest on line.
School buildings will become smaller and students will learn in shifts. Smaller districts will consolidate with larger to take advantage of economies of scale.
This is all in the future. Not in my lifetime but in the near future. The virus has just made us more aware of how technology will drastically change the face of public education. Maybe I'm a dreamer but I'm a futurist and realist too.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 4:04pm

I hope you are around for a better future. We've all endured so much unnecessary grief.

Miss Teacher
Tue, 07/28/2020 - 5:35pm

Have these politicians signed up to substitute teach? If it is safe and they care about education they should be happy to help with staff shortages

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 5:00am

Of course not, these cowards are even too afraid to meet to do THEIR elected jobs. They are so useless.

Tue, 07/28/2020 - 7:57pm

It’s the flu. Just a different variety that so far has killed less than the flu that goes around every year. Wash or disinfect your hands, do the things you normally do to stay away from the flu and get on with life!

Fed Up
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 2:41am

Really Frank? As per the CDC the 2018-2019 flu death total was 34,200. As of today (5 months in) there are 151,374 deaths from Covid 19. Do you realize that for the last 5 days (120 hours) that 5000 people have died? That is about 42 people an hour. At this rate, there will be another 4000 people dead by Saturday- so 9000 people in a week vs 34,200 people in a year. The flu argument has gone out the door.

Wed, 07/29/2020 - 3:08am

Hi Frank,

I get a flu vaccine every year. Covid-19 has no vaccine. It is highly contagious and highly infectious. So far the total deaths in this country is approaching 150,000, with hundreds of new cases daily. Life is not going to normalize until scientists can get a handle on this thing. I don’t know about you. But I would rather be safe than sorry.


Shame on you!
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 5:04am

Twitter would ban such mis/disinformation. When does the seasonal flu kill over 150,000 in half a year WITH the country in lockdown?

Jackie C.
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 4:45am

I am interested in many different options for schools reopening.
Some possible changes revolve around kids going to school building on alternate days. Attend school on Monday then have online / homework on Tuesdays then attend school on Wednesday to check in and prepare for home work the next day. Of course this would alternate for groups of students. The problem of accountability for many students could best be addressed this way.

Teach the child...
Wed, 07/29/2020 - 1:26pm

Jackie, that's just not practical. How can schools run their facilities with those options? Which parents can accommodate such options, especially when you have children of different ages in different buildings and different schedules? Resources should not be wasted busing students, maintaining half empty buildings, etc., only to have the vectors spreading the virus. Let's be honest, the schools can open, but they will not stay open for long. Opening and closing schools will be very disruptive. School districts will be sued left and right for endangering the children when they say the schools are safe. It will be a bonanza for plaintiff attorneys, not so much for children.

Lorraine Howlett
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 2:46am

School districts should determine when and how schools should re-open, not a legislative body.

Sandra S
Fri, 07/31/2020 - 4:10pm


Wed, 08/12/2020 - 1:38pm

This is not about democrats or republicans it is about common sense. Those who have it will be the ones who survive this virus. If your wearing a mask washing your hands and social distancing you and your families have a much lower chance of contracting the virus. Should kids be sent back to school? No. Will they yes. Not because school leaders or politicians think it's safe but the solution is better than the problem for some underprivelledged children it's a safe place to learn get a meal and not get beaten or abused on daily or weekly basis. School also just isn't a place to learn your numbers and letters it is also a place to learn socialization skills that let you function as a successful adult. So is it scary? Yes. But school will do everything in their power to reopen this fall. And if they fail because of an outbreak then at least they can say they tried.

Don't Drone Me Bro
Wed, 08/12/2020 - 6:28pm

I really can't believe the number of you who put politics before your own kids. All of you who are against schools being open in the fall all have the keyword "Trump" in your comments. What is wrong with you people? Seriously? You're going to have your kids fall behind to stick it to the orange man??? You do realize you put them more at risk with your driving...especially if you have your phone in your hand while you drive. You people need to get a life. I fear for our future.