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WATCH: Governor Whitmer unveils back-to-school plan, urges residents to 'remain vigilant'

School leaders ask what school will look like come fall in Michigan
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Posted at 6:42 PM, Jun 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-30 15:27:00-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer unveiled her MI Safe Schools Roadmap, which directs school districts to come up with distinct plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Right now, schools around Michigan are under historic pressure. They do not know how much funding they will have per student come fall and there is no timeline for when they will have that information.

The council has formulated a plan for how to open while protecting students and staff as much as possible from COVID-19.

“I fear that some school districts across the state just won’t be able to open in the fall,” said Mark Greathead, Superintendent of Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools and Tri-County Alliance for Public Education President.

Schools are expecting to have to spend millions to help children social distance and sanitize while facing potential budget cuts as states experience a loss in tax revenue due to the stay at home orders.

“So these are the kinds of things that keep me up at night,” said Paul Salah, Huron Valley Schools Superintendent.

“The main goal is to get our kids back in the classroom, but do so in a way that it is safe,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Michigan) of the Return to Learn Plan.

In Woodhaven-Brownstown Schools and Huron Valley Schools, they are planning to offer in-person or virtual classes to give families options, but are concerned that COVID-19 will learn to lower enrollment.

“We surveyed our community and asked how many would send their kids to school and upwards of 30% are considering a 100% virtual option,” said Salah.

“I understand the pressures they are under and support the need to get the base funding no matter what,” said Whitmer, when asked if schools can expect a break this year if enrollment drops specifically due to COVID-19.

School leaders say they expect a great plan but are concerned about paying for it.

“And not being able to execute that plan because the funding wasn’t provided,” said Greathead.

“We are betting the federal government is going to step in and provide assistance. If they do not we are looking at an about $12.5 million cut. We have $4 million in our savings, so immediately we are taking loans to make payroll,” said Salah.

The governor said she is calling on Congress and President Donald Trump to pass a bill that helps schools deal with the costs of COVID-19.

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.

Visit our The Rebound Detroit, a place where we are working to help people impacted financially from the coronavirus. We have all the information on everything available to help you through this crisis and how to access it.