"Today, my administration is announcing a goal that all school districts offer an option for in-person learning no later than March 1st and earlier, if possible. The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable."
2. SOUNDBITE: (English) Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan's chief medical executive:
"Starting Monday, K through 12 teachers and child care staff will be able to start getting vaccinated. And this is another important tool to help prevent spread of the virus and to keep our kids in in-person learning."
"On top of testing and vaccinations, we will work with districts to ensure that when schools begin in-person learning, safety protocols like mask wearing, hand washing and social distancing remain in place."
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is strongly encouraging all K-12 schools in Michigan to offer in-person instruction by March 1, stopping short of requiring it but saying face-to-face classes should at least be an option.
Many schools have been fully remote during the coronavirus pandemic.
Teachers and child care staff are among residents who will begin being vaccinated starting Monday as the state transitions to the next phase of its vaccine rollout. Vaccines were first offered to health care workers and nursing home residents.
"The value of in-person learning for our kids is immeasurable," Whitmer said Friday, adding it is safe if schools require masks and adopt infection-prevention protocols.
The Democratic governor last month lifted her administration's temporary ban on in-person learning in high schools as a spike in COVID-19 infections receded.
In December, at least 800,000 public school students — 55% — were in districts that planned to offer only virtual instruction amid the surge. That's according to a study by Michigan State University. About 453,000, or 31%, were in districts with an option of full in-person learning. Others had hybrid or other setups.
Under a 2020 law, Michigan schools that deem it safe to provide face-to-face classes during the pandemic must prioritize the option for K-5 students.