Michigan schools face ‘no-win situation’ over reopening classrooms, officials say
Some Michigan parents see going back to the classroom as a threat to their child’s safety, while others believe keeping school virtual is taking away their freedom.
In the middle of that debate are school district superintendents trying to decide if or when to reopen schools amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re seeing extremely strong sentiment on both sides, which makes it very difficult for administrators," said Marcus Cheatham, health officer for the Mid-Michigan District Health Department, which oversees Clinton, Gratiot and Montcalm counties.
"No matter what they do, they’re getting called names, they’re saying, ‘you’re threatening my kid’s life’ or ‘you’re taking away our freedoms. It’s a no-win situation.”
Along with monitoring COVID-19 cases in their communities, Michigan superintendents are balancing politics and the opinions of teachers, students, parents and elected school board members in making their decisions to reopen or not, Cheatham said.
The recent decision by the Michigan Supreme Court negating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s coronavirus executive orders further complicates the debate because many parents incorrectly believe districts can no longer enforce mitigation strategies, Cheatham said.
“We are seeing parents who are growing very hostile toward the schools and it’s creating a really difficult situation,” he said.
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