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August 5, 2020

Schools should not resume in-person instruction until it’s safe for students and educators

MICHIGAN – On Wednesday, AFT Michigan laid out their position on when and if K-12 schools should resume in-person instruction. This position was developed by the union’s governing board. 

AFT Michigan believes it is only safe for students and staff to return to in-person instruction when the following conditions are met:

  • The infection and transmission rates of the virus are under control in the surrounding community;
  • The district’s safety plan and building adaptations meet the standards established by public health experts; 
  • The district has implemented common sense HR policies ensuring that no employee feels pressure to come to school when they should be staying at home; and
  • The district has collectively bargained letters of agreement with all relevant unions, as required by law, and collaboratively developed a plan for virtual/hybrid learning that does not involve privatization.

These conditions build on Governor Whitmer’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap that provides a framework to protect students and school employees while also making sure the students are getting the learning experience they need and deserve. We see the Roadmap’s required actions as the minimum a school district, college and university should do.

“We stand with students and educators across the state,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan. “In any plan to reopen schools, the wellbeing of students and staff must be our first priority. Our goal is to negotiate in good faith with employers and ensure schools are fully prepared to keep students and educators safe before they resume in-person instruction. We appreciate those employers who have come to the bargaining table with a commitment to reach an agreement. We view collective action as a very last resort and hope it will not be necessary—but as our national union announced last week, if a local union deems it necessary to protect the health and safety of students and staff, we will support them. We sincerely hope we are able to reach agreements with employers and educators are not put in that position.”

In July, the union released its reopening position regarding higher education.


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