Eighty-six percent of school districts in Michigan will offer some or all in-person instruction at the beginning of the school year, according to a study conducted by Michigan State University (MSU).
The study, released Friday, showed that 59 percent of Michigan school districts will be offering in-person schooling five days a week and 27 percent will be offering it at least two to three days a week.
“It is critical that our students and staff mask up. With masks and other careful mitigation strategies, many children will have the opportunity to learn in person at the beginning of this school year,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice in a statement. “With schools abiding by the requirements and many of the recommendations in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, teaching and learning in school are a viable option for many Michigan kids as the school year starts.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published updated guidelines for reopening schools last week. In addition to maintaining a clean environment, wearing face masks and social distancing when possible, the center also suggested preventative measures such as “cohorting,” where the same group of students learn together, rather than change students and teachers every class.
MSU’s study said that the mode of learning — virtual, in-person or hybrid — changes depending on the area of the state.
Eighty-four percent of districts that said they will be returning to in-person teaching are located in Phase 4 regions, while the remaining 16 percent are located in Phase 5 regions.
“There are regional patterns in districts’ reopening,” said Dr. Katharine Strunk, director of MSU’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, which did the study. “For instance, districts in Phase 5 are more likely to offer fully in-person or the option for in-person schooling. By contrast, over a quarter of districts in the Lansing region plan to offer all instruction remotely and districts in the Detroit region are twice as likely as districts across the state to offer hybrid instruction.”
Michigan has already seen several coronavirus outbreaks linked to schools, although the state has not identified the precise locations, according to reporting by BridgeMI.
The state has seen a total of 14 outbreaks connected to schools, with eight new outbreaks discovered between August 20 and 27. Three of the outbreaks were at colleges, while the other five were at K-12 schools.
Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan’s chief medical executive, told BridgeMI it would release names of schools once the state had tweaked its reporting system with local health departments.
Rice said that districts must create plans that fit their needs.
“Every district, every public school academy, is unique,” Rice said. “These are difficult times that require difficult decisions made at the local level, collaborative decisions that must include the voices of educators, students, parents, unions, administrators, and the broader community.”
Read the full study here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter at The Michigan Star and Star News Digital Media. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]