(WXYZ) — U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona made huge news during a stop in Detroit on Thursday night, saying COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for eligible students.
Cardona will also be joined in Royal Oak on Friday by First Lady Jill Biden as part of a nationwide tour highlighting students' return to in-person learning.
They are really trying to avoid the instability of schools reopening and closing because of kids who are infected with COVID-19.
In Michigan, health officials are tracking more than 99 new outbreaks in schools, and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has reiterated she has no plans to institute universal vaccine or mask mandates for students.
Cardona said seeing children in schools, around books and eager to learn in invaluable.
"It really brings home what my job is really about," he said.
For several months, Cardona has been working to keep kids in school, despite an ongoing public health crisis. He said those who are on board with his mission should be considering mandatory vaccines for qualifying students.
"I wholeheartedly support it. I brought my children to get vaccinated as soon as they were eligible to get vaccinated," he said. "I think that it's the best tool we that we have to safely reopen schools and keep them open."
Even as pediatric cases continue to rise in Michigan, Whitmer has announced no plans to require masks or vaccines, leaving it up to local counties and school boards.
Under an emergency use authorization, the Pfizer vaccine is available to kids ages 12-15, however, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports the number of kids in that age group actually getting the shot has declined for the past five weeks.
Cardona said leadership at the state level could turn that around, and more importantly, keep kids in school.
"We don't want to have the yo-yo effect that many districts had last year and we can prevent that by getting vaccinated," he said. "So like the president said, I strongly urge governors to require vaccines because we know they are safe."
This week, Pfizer did announce their vaccine was well tolerated in those ages 5-12, but it has yet to be approved for use.
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