Trump urges schools to reopen during coronavirus. Michigan parents say no.

Parents strongly support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to close Michigan schools for the remainder of the school year because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Bridge file photo)

President Donald Trump may want schools to reopen this school year, but Michigan families disagree.

Parents of K-12 students in Michigan overwhelmingly support Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision to close K-12 classrooms for the year, according to a poll conducted recently by Bridge Magazine and Public Sector Consultants.

In the poll, 70 percent of parents surveyed agree with the decision to close classrooms for the remainder of the school year, compared to just 8 percent who opposed the closure. (Twenty-two percent did not express positive or negative views.)

The poll findings come a day after Trump, in a conference call with governors, reportedly suggested he’d like to see children back in classrooms across the country.

According to news reports on the conference call, Trump said states should "seriously consider" reopening schools and "maybe get going on it," noting that younger children seem to be faring better with coronavirus symptoms.

“Some of you might start thinking about school openings,” the president told governors, in an audio obtained by multiple news organizations. “Because a lot of people are wanting to have the school openings.

Those people apparently don’t include Michigan parents of school-age children. The Bridge/PSC poll, conducted April 13-20, before the president’s comments, asked 800 Michigan parents or guardians of K-12 students if they agreed with Whitmer’s decision to close Michigan schools for the remainder of the school year, which ends in June.

Support for the shutdown was bipartisan. 

Democrats in the poll supported closure 79 percent to 4 percent. 

Republicans supported closure 59 percent to 16 percent, and independents, 67 percent to 14 percent.

The poll had a margin of error of between 2.5 percent and 3.5 percent.

“This data would suggest that when it comes to the risk COVID-19 represents to families with school-aged children, Michiganders are erring on the side of caution by supporting the current posture of having their students learn remotely,” said Tim Dempsey, vice president of Public Sector Consultants. 

Currently, 43 states have closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year, with several others weighing extensions of shorter closure orders, or leaving it up to local school districts to make that decision.

Michigan public and private K-12 schools initially were ordered closed for three weeks beginning March 16. On April 2, the closures were extended for the remainder of the school year.

Trump suggested Monday that schools might be able to reopen because COVID-19 generally hasn’t been as lethal in children as in adults over 65 and adults with underlying health conditions. “In terms of what this vicious virus goes after, young people seem to do very well,” Trump said.

The Whitmer administration did not immediately respond to a question from Bridge as to whether the Michigan governor was on the call with Trump and would be willing to comment.

Amber McCann, spokesperson for Republican Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, told Bridge in an email “there has been no discussion of reopening schools for this school year.  Schools have worked hard to develop distance learning plans for students to complete this year.”

The presidential suggestion received a cool reception among some Michigan education leaders interviewed by Bridge.

“I think it is too early to consider reopening schools,” said Scott Menzel, superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District. “As much as we would love to be able to welcome students back into our buildings, there are still too many unknowns. For the WISD and the medically fragile students we serve, the risk is too high.”

While children generally do not get seriously ill with the coronavirus, they can spread the virus to other, more at-risk members of their families.

The Trump administration’s own plan for restarting the economy doesn’t call for reopening schools until phase two, after some other businesses have successfully reopened and there are no signs of a second surge of the pandemic, which has killed more than 57,000 Americans.

On Friday, Whitmer extended the state’s stay-at-home order until May 15, while also announcing an easing of rules on some businesses and recreation.

“I am hopeful that the measured approach to re-opening the economy will work and that we won’t see a spike in infection rates,” Menzel said. “If that trend continues during the summer, then the potential for returning to school [in the fall] seems more likely.  However, the data should be what drives these decisions.”

The Michigan Department of Education “strongly supports the governor’s executive order” to close classrooms for the remainder of the school year and switch to remote learning, according to MDE spokesperson Martin Ackley.

Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District, the largest district in the state and in the city hit hardest by the pandemic, likewise said Tuesday that “considering the impact COVID has had on the city,  it would not be safe to return all students and employees back to face-to-face instruction until the fall.”

Reopening schools also is a non-starter for David Campbell, superintendent of Kalamazoo Intermediate School District.

“That decisionhas been made by executive order,” Campbell said. “We are now implementing the Continuity of Learning Plans and trying to teach kids remotely.”

Parental sentiment on other issues relating to Michigan school closings will be addressed in upcoming Bridge reports.


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Kevin Grand
Tue, 04/28/2020 - 4:32pm

Where is the link to the actual poll done by PSC?

It would be nice to know their methodology, exact working of questions, where respondents were contacted in Michigan, etc.

Trump is Doofus
Tue, 04/28/2020 - 4:41pm

WTF does that idiot care, is he sending Barron to school here? Is he going to invoke the Defense Production Act to provide the testing we need?

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 5:20pm

The Defense Production Act isn't magic, you know. I know you like to think it is- that when Biden is President he's just going to absent-mindedly mumble "DPA" and all of a sudden tests will be provided. But I get your impulse- given the option of the President working with private companies or ordering them what to do, you think that the companies would perform better if they were ordered. You Democrats- always reaching for the whip to motivate unwilling workers to do your bidding.

middle of the mit
Tue, 04/28/2020 - 8:55pm

Where are the conservative comments demanding LIBERTY for the students?

Why are they not beating down on Half-Whitmer?

Why is Mitch McConnell seeking liability waivers for businesses? But no protections for workers?

Why is The President of the United States seeking those same waivers and Defense Production Act Powers for meat packing plants?

Yet, he wants the nations children to go back to school.

And most parents don't agree.

Why is that? Can you figure it out?

I can.

I have said it before and I am saying it now again. I don't have kids. What I do for a living never exposed me to many people who had kids or who had kids that had kids. Understand?

The less exposure you have, the less susceptible you are.

The problem is there is a faction that thinks that we can be herd immunized without even knowing if we can contract the disease after we have already had it. That is NOT immunization.

The other problem is this a site that will post right wing commentary and comments calling the Governor and all liberals commies and socialists but they won't post one of my comments calling out a certain faction of a party because I chose to use the word faction.

What does faction mean?

Political faction, a group of people with a common political purpose

What that tells me is they wouldn't post anything of mine if I defined that faction properly. Even though they do it to us "leftists" all the time on this board.

They want corporate control of Government. There is a name for it, but for "partisan reasons" I am not allowed to espouse it. Why is it on a site that kAren gRand can call our Governor Gretchen: Governor Karen...... and others can beat up on commies and socialists.......I can't retort back with the same retort?

I will tell you why.

It's the same reason that this worldwide pandemic has been politicized.

We are going to succumb to those who are "victims" (even though I thought they hated victimhood) and the world is going to go their way.

But they won't take a lick of responsibility.

Just like the commander in chief.

But somehow it WILL be put on Governor Gretchen.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:41am

What word is not allowed "fascism"?

middle of the mit
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:35pm

Try using in context of those who want corporate control of government.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:37am

Can a person shoot the Covid virus with an AK-47? Seems many think it can be done.

Tree Cutter
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 5:43pm

It’s hard to ascertain if you are trying to make an argument based on all the insults and pejoratives you throw out. I do gather you are some form of elitist that can provide a couple of links, amazing. If you are a virologist that has extensive real world experience outside of computer models, I would be attentive to the information. It also sounds you have an issue with free speech. Whether herd immunity is effective, if an effective vaccine can be developed deserve discussion. If you have children in school, don’t send them back now or ever, if you feel that strongly about it. I know that it would be difficult to be quarantined with such a hateful person as yourself. My sympathies to your family members if you have any.

middle of the mit
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 9:33pm

Tree cutter,
You are going to me hateful? Ha ha ha ha! Have you heard half of the conservative comments on this board let alone this post? When I say board I mean this site and ALL of the posts.

YOU WILL NEVER hear me talk about The President of the United States like you do about the Governor.

I WILL make snappy, snarky comments and use nicknames. But I would never call for destroying him.

Here. Just for reference............

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 2:30am

All of you people supporting this order will regret it later when civil war inevitable happens and we (the people) do not protect you. You'll be left in the streets, calling for help, where you belong.
You useless, reasonless piece of dementia.

Thu, 04/30/2020 - 2:34am

Good job? At what, being a tyrant?
Yes, Stalin would love her.
Revere would be riding his horse through the streets warning of her approach.
She is a tyrant and must be treated as such.
We must make sure that her tyrannical actions follow her for the rest of her attempted career.
We must destroy her for the sake of all that is American.

How do you feel about that?

And me an elitist? Ha ha ha ha!

You are the one who thinks they know more about health than professionals. So can I call you the next time I need some one to wire my shed for electricity? Or would you prefer I hire an electrician? Liability insurance and all.

Being stuck in quarantine with me? It really wouldn't be that bad. It only bothers me when I see people like you tell me that me that olds should suck it up for the "patriotic" economy.

I would be much more worried about being stuck in a house with those protesters.

Wouldn't you?

University Coll...
Tue, 04/28/2020 - 9:57pm

A new study by researchers at University College London said recent modeling studies of Covid-19 suggest that school closures alone would prevent only 2% to 4% of deaths -- far fewer than other social distancing interventions.

The research, published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health medical journal late on Monday, reviewed 16 studies looking at past epidemics of SARS, MERS and seasonal flu, as well as others modeling the spread of the novel coronavirus, and found that the evidence to support national closures of schools to combat Covid-19 is "very weak."

"Data from the SARS outbreak in mainland China, Hong Kong, and Singapore suggest that school closures did not contribute to the control of the epidemic," the researchers said.

Data so far suggests that while children can be infected with the novel coronavirus, they are likely to experience only mild symptoms.

The scientists suggest that policymakers should consider other "less disruptive social distancing interventions in schools," especially if the pandemic-related restrictions need to be in place for a long time.

Scientists are increasingly warning of the potential impact of long-term school closures on the mental health and wellbeing of children, warning that more research is needed.

"The longer schools, colleges and universities are closed, we do risk the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people who are vulnerable because of the situation created by self-isolation and social distancing policies," Catherine Carroll-Meehan, from the School of Education and Sociology at the University of Portsmouth, told the Science Media Centre.

With children forced to stay at home, a large proportion of working parents are likely to miss work.

Another common solution -- leaving children with their grandparents -- is particularly risky in the case of Covid-19, as the elderly are among those most vulnerable to the virus.

The economic costs of shutting schools can snowball quickly. Studies in the US have showed that as much as 3% of America's GDP could be lost as a result of an eight-week closure of US schools.

Matt G.
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:29am

"Only" 2-4% of deaths. Were those 2-4% school staff like teachers and administrators and grandparents that take care of school age children? It's fine though, right? Only about a 9/11 worth of extra deaths for every 100,000 deaths. I'm guessing you were against any response to 9/11 as well, because that was also an overreaction to such a small amount of death and disruption, right?

It's hilarious to read all the people whining about suicide deaths and mental health issues as a reason we should get rid of the lockdowns when most of them voted for people who don't care at all about mental health or health care in general (republicans, if you're too dense to understand the subtext). If people are dying of suicide during this time, it's because we didn't have a functional health care system in the first place. Now is not the time to pretend like you care about that when you voted against it for decades because you selfishly wanted low taxes and FREEDUMB.

Betsy McCaughy
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 9:00pm

Let's do some quick math. Right now, 40399 are 'killed' from COVID. Closing the schools prevented that from being 2% higher, or 41206. Thus the shut down of schools may have saved 807 from dying. Of course every life matters. To save those 807 people, the economy was shut down, leading to thousands dying from suicide increases and tens of thousands dying from delayed cancer screenings.

Matt, I get it- you're a teacher and you're terrified and have a selfish desire to stay at home, not matter how many thousands your beliefs and policies will lead to dying. It's not funny and it's not anything to insult others about- it's math and numbers. You're advocating for policies that kill people by advocating for shutting down schools, so get comfortable with that fact.

Matt G.
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 8:48am

Another short sighted person doing "quick math" and counting what has happened as of today WITH these policies in place rather than what could/would happen without these policies in place.

Also, it takes 2-3+ weeks for people to die from COVID, so your "right now" number is pointless. You're doing the math for 2-3 weeks ago.

I work on critical thinking with my students. You should work on it on your own. Again, who did you vote for, and did they care at all about mental health and health care for all? If not, you voted for someone who "advocated for policies that kill people" long before the pandemic.

Betsy McCaughy
Thu, 04/30/2020 - 3:51pm

Matt, hopefully you're a better teacher than you are a troll. Your analysis made several critical mistakes. I wrote "Right now, 40399 are 'killed' from COVID." The phrase "right now" was included in the sentence to indicate that the math included the policies in place right now, so I did include those policies (although I didn't write than in all capital letters so maybe that's why you missed it). I then wrote "Closing the schools prevented that from being 2% higher, or 41206"- so if the schools had not been shut down, the number without the policies would have been 2% higher.

You can easily translate these numbers forward two weeks. In two weeks, the number who may have died from COVID will be higher- let's guess 10% increase to 44438. 2% of that is 889 people. 889 is higher than today's 807- but I don't think either number justifies the increase in deaths by tens of thousands that occurring because of increases in suicides, decreases in cancer screenings, and bans on 'elective' medicine that have been enacted by state Governor's.

I apologize if I made you feel bad- I really hope this didn't sound mean.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:15pm

Wow! And you, sir, appear to be a model humanitarian.

Al Dupund
Tue, 04/28/2020 - 10:01pm

The longer the governor-imposed shutdown continues, the more lives that will be lost. Increased suicides and drug abuse combined with lower cancer screenings and preventive medicine will mean tens of thousands dead who would not have been. Education is valuable to children and they are not receiving the same quality education at home that they would be at school and they may be suffering irreparable harm. Parents need to get back to work and are losing their jobs and any savings they had for their kids. Healthcare workers are being let go right when we need them the most because of the governor's imposed restrictions.

People are dying out there- let the economy open and lower the death rate!

To Al Dope
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:03am

That's awful. Can you provide the statistics and research to support you claims? Senator Shirkey on Off the Record said there was anecdotal evidence of a rise in suicide in the thumb, but didn't want to say much more because of confidentiality. Well, we see the documented deaths from CVD and they are very high, no comparison with your unsubstantiated claim that recklessly opening the economy will reduce death rates.

Al Dullpound
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 1:17pm

It is awful, isn't it- these policies are killing more people than they may be saving- but the data is easy to find to back up this claim.

The Detroit News wrote about suicides spiking a couple days ago, predicting over a 30% raise in the annual deaths in Michigan because of the shut down- so that's over 2K right there. The Bridge had an article about alcohol and drug and domestic abuse increasing at dramatic rates- I haven't seen anyone do the math on this but those numbers can be calculated. The Bridge had an article recently about vaccination rates falling off- and far far more people die of non-COVID illnesses that could be prevented with vaccinations, so this is going to potentially be a big number of dead- you figure that normal flu and normal respiratory illnesses both kill more than COVID is projected to kill, and without vaccinations those will likely go up. The NY Times had an article that says "U.S. Medical Testing, Cancer Screenings Plunge During Coronavirus Outbreak"- I can't find the exact study right now but I read that estimates are that 20K more people will die because of this shut down due to delays in cancer screenings and preventive medicine, and that's probably correct, since cancer is by far and away a bigger killer than anything COVID is projected to do.

The evidence is right in front of your face if you look around- lots of reporting is starting to total up the human death doll of this shut down. You can throw all the name-calling you want and make all sorts of accusations, but the evidence is plain for everyone to see, if you just open your eyes.

Fri, 05/01/2020 - 2:10am

We can go back and forth over what causes more deaths.

I think it is too easy to overlook the obvious with all the numbers. We know we have a pandemic and we know that it is unforgiving and that people will suffer and die. We have some numbers, but not enough yet to really understand percentages. But we also understand what we need to do to get this under control and hopefully open back up safely with good contact tracing, testing and accountability. We are starting to see possible help from medicine and methods of care that can increase our chance of surviving. Time is our friend and the odds are good we can really save people if we just persist .

We also know that we do have a death rate, people live and then die. Suicides happen all of the time. I have had several extended family members commit suicide over the years (family depression) and I understand the real toll and pain that results. I worry all the time about the abuse victims and lack of care for our most needy. I have friends who cannot put family members into addiction treatment and cannot help their loved ones. But if we are honest with ourselves about how we treat the most needy in our society ... none of this is new. Those same friends struggle all of the time to find care for their loved ones, people cannot afford mental care nor cancer tests. If we lifted all restrictions tomorrow, the deaths from suicides, and addiction and abuse will not miraculously go down. And will most likely STILL increase because covid is not going to just go away because we end our lock-down. The stress from the pandemic is real if we stay home or have to work, I argue making people go back to work without insuring it is safe to do so will be more of a burden in the long run to people's mental and physical health.

If we opened up tomorrow, people are not going to just go shopping because they can, the risk of getting sick is too real. And if they do go back and start to forget, the virus will remind us all when our numbers start to increase exponentially again and then we are in for a real economic hit.

Your vaccination argument really does not work. 1) Covid death rate is not lower then the flu, 2) we do not even have a flu vaccine for the fall yet and 3) we are social distancing, so our rate of flu infection is bound to decrease.

We cannot prevent all death no matter what we do. We also cannot prevent this pandemic from causing death outside the illness itself no matter which way we choose to go. What we can do, and it is a lot, is pause and learn from the past. Implement proven controls and work together to keep each of us as safe as possible. If we can do this we may just come out of this better, maybe our needy will suffer less because of the pandemic and we will actually save more lives in the end from all causes. Who knows?

Tiffany Hickman
Mon, 05/04/2020 - 10:24am

We know. Suicide rates will go up because of the Governor's policies. Here are some studies:

There is zero evidence that the stay home orders will result in less deaths from the virus. None. Your hope that there will be some drug that may materialize is nice, but there is no evidence that a drug will materialize tomorrow or 3 months or 3 years from now. There is evidence that the shut-down order is leading to increases in deaths right now.

Trust Whitmer
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 7:56am

So who should decide our governor or Trump, the guy who want to experiment on injecting us with bleach?

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 6:25pm

Never! She couldn't even give rational reasons for keeping people from going to their cottages up north, and boating. I guess we don't deserve that. Apparently, she doesn't feel we have the the ability to make the right decisions for ourselves. What person wants to catch the virus? The government can give us the information, and emphasize the seriousness of it, not give us a classroom lecture. We all know how serious this is, so we don't need to be baby sat by the governor.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 9:24am

I'm a Dem, can't stand Trump, and am totally befuddled my fellow parents don't want their kids in school for six months. European countries are reopening their schools, right now. Children are not at risk from Covid-19. The learning deficit from six months of no school will never be recovered. Why would parents support this? Are they really that freaked out that they plan on staying indoors for the next two years, until a vaccine is found?

There is almost no risk unless you're extremely elderly or have prexisting conditions. For children, the risk is close to nill. Cases are plummeting and recovery should carefully begin, including reopening schools. You cannot just shut down everything and create a Great Depression to save a few elderly who would have passed anyways.

Matt G.
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:17am

Turns out there are staff at the schools, not just children. I don't know if you knew that, because your post completely ignored the fact that children don't go to school alone and they don't go home to be parented by children. It seems that SHOCKINGLY young kids mix with grandparents and parents who are not in the "almost no risk" group.

Common Sense
Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:57am

Italy shut down schools weeks before Michigan and is not even thinking about sending children back to school until September. Don't know why we would want to experiment on our children. It's sad to lose anyone, but most of all a child, not to mention spreading infections to teachers, staff, and families. We have to wait and see the safeguards put in place for the fall.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 10:34am

I think the kids have missed so much school this school year ('19-'20) that all students, beginning this fall ('20-'21), should have to repeat the grade in which they are currently enrolled.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:12am

may I write the quote for you; This article was written with indiscretion in regard to what the President said to the governors; "Some of you MIGHT start thinking about school openings,” the president told governors, in an audio obtained by multiple news organizations." Where is the ability to use common sense in your writing? As bad as it has been in Detroit Metro and the rest of Michigan there isn't even question about reopening schools. Think before you write!

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 1:06pm


Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:34am

We have gotten to the sad point in this once-great Country where the President can not be believed or trusted, nor can most of his cabinet and "advisors". It's just a big game-show money maker for the well connected. Rome did not fall in a day and neither will we, but we are on the fast track for sure. Unless we remove the almighty dollar from politics (either party), we're doomed.

Wed, 04/29/2020 - 6:42pm

This is a lie. Schools have already been shut down for the year. Stop spreading fake news.