MI Superintendents urged to prepare for return from winter break, modify gatherings

Michigan

With schools set to reopen, MDHHS and MDE are urging superintendents to prepare adequately.

LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — A recent letter sent to superintendents across the state is urging schools to reinforce actions that can help alleviate the risks associated with this COVID-19 pandemic.

The letter comes from the Michigan Department of Human and Health Services (MDHHS) and Michigan Department of Education (MDE), which are anticipating the omicron variant’s arrival in schools.

MDHHS says the guidance is intended to keep school buildings open and allow students and staff to return to school safely after winter break.

Our priority has remained keeping students safe.Children ages 5 and older now can get vaccinated. In addition to vaccination, we strongly recommend universal masking for students, teachers and staff. We have the tools to keep Michiganders safe, and we must continue to use them.”

Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS Director

The CDC and MDHHS strongly recommend universal indoor masking for all teachers, staff, students, and visitors (age 2 and up), regardless of vaccination status.

MDHHS also recommends regular testing in all school settings and is offering rapid antigen testing to K-12 schools through the MI Safe Schools Testing Program.

To take advantage of this program school districts should follow this process when submitting rapid antigen test orders.  

Schools can participate in the MI Backpack Program, which offers free at-home COVID-19 tests to students, their families, teachers, and school staff. School districts interested in participating in this program can fill out this form

Additionally, MDHHS says it’s important for all schools to review their planned activities for events and gatherings, advising modifications to planned activities during and after school where the ability to maintain social distancing between people who live in different households cannot be maintained.

If not essential, gatherings involving 100 or more people should be made remote or postponed entirely. Large gatherings include events with large numbers of people from multiple households such as conferences or meetings, sporting events, and concerts. 

The state health department says wearing masks, washing hands often, maintaining social distance wherever possible, and getting staff and students vaccinated all remain important safety measures.

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