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Whitmer: Comprehensive plan for closing schools can't happen overnight

Gretchen whitmer at a microphone
Jake Neher

On Monday, Bridge Magazine reported Governor Gretchen Whitmer was expected to sign an executive order that would effectively end the school year for Michigan students. However, Whitmer has told Michigan Radio that there won't be an order coming today and that coming up with a comprehensive plan to meet the needs of the students won't happen overnight. Whitmer did indicate that an order could be signed as soon as Wednesday, however.

"We have 1.5 million students in Michigan schools and there are very different needs in different parts of our state and different resources available and that's why it's not just something we can craft overnight," Whitmer said. "It's got to be thoughtful, it's got to be comprehensive and so I would anticipate being able to give you more detail in the coming days."

Whitmer also says she's been working with "experts on the front line," including state educators, administrators, as well as the Michigan Department of Education and the state Legislature. The Legislature has a session day scheduled for April 7 in case lawmakers have to ratify any deals.

Earlier in March, Whitmer closed schools until April 5 in response to the state's first confirmed cases of COVID-19. That closure has since been extended to April 13, after Whitmer issued a stay at home order March 23. In a radio interview on WWJ-AM on March 27, Whitmer said that it would be "very unlikely" that students would return to school this year.

The Michigan Department of Education has ruled that online learning can't count towards educational hours for Michigan K-12 students, which left parents, students, and teachers in limbo. 

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
Jodi is Michigan Public's Director of Digital Audiences, leading and developing the station’s overall digital strategy.
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