Michigan's Schools To Stay Closed Much Longer | WMUK

Michigan's Schools To Stay Closed Much Longer

Apr 2, 2020

Kalamazoo Promise banner at Milwood Elementary School
Credit Andy Robins / WMUK

One-and-a-half million Michigan students will not be heading back to classes until next fall, at the earliest. Governor Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement about K-12 schools Thursday, April 2.

The announcement was not a surprise as Michigan ramps up its response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus. Whitmer said it was not an easy decision. She also has school-aged daughters at home, “I know this will be tough. It will require creativity and hard work and problem-solving.”

Many education groups quickly supported the decision. Schools are expected to come up with at-home learning plans. But there are no standards on what will have to be in those plans, which must be approved by intermediate school districts.

Michigan Chief Medical Executive Joneigh Kahldun advised the governor on the decision. She says it's the best call for students and their families as well as teachers and other school staff.

“We are not sure of the exact date when cases will peak in the state, but as of right now, we know we are on the up slope. We’ve identified over a thousand new cases each day over the past few days.”

The Kalamazoo Public Schools were already working on a plan to meet Whitmer's latest order. Interim Kalamazoo Superintendent Gary Start says his staff is working on ways to extend online and at-home teaching. But he says that isn't easy, "It's not easy for anyone in the state, country, or world to deal with this pandemic. It's really pretty difficult."

Start says the requirement that district's come up with a plan to continue learning while classrooms are closed was not a surprise.

"KPS is already working on that. Now, what's not realistic is to assume that every student has the same access to the tools of online learning, that's not realistic. But we will do the absolute best we can to make sure every student has the best possible instructional opportunities."

Start says that includes sending instructional materials home for students who get food during the crisis. But he says instructional issues aren't the only problems.

"We needed to find a way to keep people off our playground equipment. And that's not instruction but that's important because kids touch the playground equipment, other kids touch it, and that risks spreading the disease."

Start says the pandemic seems to create new challenges for schools every day.