January 11, 2021
As was reinforced by the horrific actions at the nation’s capitol last week, we are living in unprecedented and historic times. Regardless of your partisan affiliation, I hope we can all agree that violence and disrespect of the U.S. constitution and the U.S. Capitol is not how we move forward as a country. I look forward to spirited debates on policies and issues in 2021; however, we should acknowledge that we are in desperate need of healing as a country and I’m hoping for civility in DC.
Governor Issues New K12 COVID Guidelines
This past Friday, Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) announced new guidance for schools to keep students, staff and communities safe during the COVID-19 pandemic while providing the in-person instruction that is vastly superior for learning and development. The state’s goal is to have all Michigan school districts offer an in-person learning option for students no later than March 1.
The guidance emphasizes the use of scientifically proven methods of reducing the risk of COVID-19 spread, such as wearing masks, ventilation improvements, frequent hand washing and social distancing. A voluntary state COVID-19 testing program will soon be available to educators, providing once-a-week tests. It was previously announced that vaccination of teachers and other school staff will also begin this week due to educators’ roles as essential frontline workers. Districts must work with local health departments to develop a vaccination process.
Other infection control measures in the new MDHHS guidance include:
- When feasible, assigning children to cohort groups and limiting their interactions to their cohorts to reduce the number of contacts.
- Keeping children 6 feet apart from one another to the extent feasible, making creative use of school spaces to facilitate distancing.
- Providing adequate hand sanitizing supplies and reinforcing proper handwashing techniques.
- Improving air ventilation.
- Having staff and students conduct self-screenings for symptoms at home every day before going to school.
- Ensuring school plans coordinate with their local health department if there are any positive COVID-19 tests.
- Having staff and students who either test positive or are close contacts of those who test positive follow the guidance issued by MDHHS as well as local health departments. Anyone who is considered a close contact of someone who tests positive but does not have symptoms should quarantine for 10 days under CDC guidance.
AFT Michigan, MEA, Michigan Association of School Administrators, Michigan Association of School Boards and Middle Cities released a joint statement noting in part: “Combined with educators being up next for vaccination against the disease, it’s time to work together to plan how to safely reopen schools…We applaud the state’s release of updated, simplified safety guidance for schools, as well as more than $1 billion in federal funding to implement these mitigation steps, especially when it comes to strict infection-control protocols.”
Upcoming Union-Building Workshops
|Filing for Unemployment in Michigan||Tuesday, January 12, 2021||2:00pm||3:30pm|
|Filing for Unemployment in Michigan||Wednesday, January 13, 2021||3:00pm||4:30pm|
|Member Organizing Institute 101||2 Saturdays, January 23 and January 30, 2021||9:00am||12:00pm|
|Bargaining 101||3 Mondays, January 25, February 1, February 8, 2021||6:00pm||8:00pm|
David Hecker, President