By Jessica Mathews /

Governor Gretchen Whitmer has released a comprehensive document designed to help school districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall.

The MI SafeSchools Return to School Roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-142, which provides a structure to support all schools in Michigan as they plan for a return of PreK-12 education in the fall. The order requires school districts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they’ll protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. During an afternoon press conference, Whitmer said she’s optimistic about returning to in-person learning in the fall.

The 63-page document was created by the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council, which is made up of 25 leaders in health care and education. Howell Public Schools’ teacher Gregory Talberg is a member of the council. The Williamston resident holds Masters Degrees in K-12 Administration and Social Studies Education. Talberg was appointed to represent educators for a term expiring December 31st.

The MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap offers guidelines as to the types of safety protocols that will be required or recommended at each phase. That includes guidance on the use of PPE, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics and more. The Governor also announced that $256 million will be allocated to support districts in implementing their local plans as part of the bi-partisan budget agreement reached. The Governor will continue to use the MI Safe Start Plan as the highest-level governing framework for determining if and when it is safe to resume in-person instruction.

Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun said “The most important thing we can do as we prepare to reopen school buildings in the fall is closely examine the data and remain vigilant in our steps to fight this virus”.

When asked to comment on the plan, Hartland Consolidated Schools Superintendent Chuck Hughes told WHMI, "Please understand that the district will take time to digest the plan and then work to develop a plan we feel comfortable sharing. I have stated many times to our community that we will work to be thoughtful and deliberate in this process and release our thoughts sometime after mid-July. We certainly will provide options to our families who are concerned about sending their children to school right away and will do everything in our power to gear up for face to face instruction."

A link to the MI SafeSchools Return to School Roadmap is provided.