EAST LANSING — The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Paula Herbart regarding today’s announcement by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer outlining guidelines for safely returning to school this fall. President Herbart sits on Gov. Whitmer’s Return to Learn Advisory Council, which is working to ensure a safe return to school for students, families and Michigan’s dedicated public school employees:
“While today’s minimum steps provide a roadmap back to in-person learning, things are not ‘returning to normal.’ It will not be perfect and there will be curves in the road ahead. We owe our students — and the educators who serve them — the greatest measures of clarity and consistency we can manage in an unprecedented situation.
“While many school districts will doubtless go beyond the minimum guidelines laid out today, they are an important common starting point. Educator voices were represented and heard on the Return to Learn Advisory Council – now we need to follow that example and ensure school employees are part of making important health and safety decisions at the local level, as called for in state collective bargaining law.
“Just as we needed the expertise of public health officials during this pandemic, the expertise of Michigan’s educators must be part of any successful and safe return to in-person learning this fall. Going forward, we must be flexible and willing to respond to changing circumstances and evolving data, and if needed, consider stronger measures to protect the health and safety of our students, families and hard-working public school employees.”