LANSING, Mich. (AP) — A Republican lawmaker pressed a top state health official Thursday to lift an order closing all Michigan high schools to in-person instruction due to the coronavirus, saying the decision should be left at the local level.
“Let the parents decide. Let the school systems decide whether they’re open or whether they’re closed,” Sen. Kim LaSata of Berrien County’s Bainbridge Township told Robert Gordon, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, in a joint House-Senate hearing.
High schools and colleges are two weeks into a minimum three-week period in which they can only provide virtual classes under Gordon’s order, which was backed by Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to control spiking COVID-19 cases statewide. Before then, they had the option of face-to-face or remote instruction similarly to K-8 schools, which are not covered by the directive.
Gordon said there is significantly more risk of the virus spreading in high schools than in lower grades, and the educational loss from no onsite schooling is more detrimental to younger students than high schoolers.
“I fully agree with you that reopening schools should be our priority, and we are eager to do all we can to reopen schools,” he said, urging GOP legislators to reverse course and codify a mask requirement into law. Earlier in the meeting, he said: “The only way we will get folks comfortable statewide with reopening schools is if we get the virus under better control.”
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