Earlier this year, Gov. Whitmer urged schools to offer in-person learning options by March 1.
Some parents worry it’s too soon to send their kids back to school, especially with rising COVID-19 cases, variants and limited vaccines for teachers and other school employees. Michigan’s data on COVID-19 outbreaks linked to schools could hold the answer to safely continuing in-person education, if the data is reliable.
“The quality of the data is pretty low… Still, we do have a decent picture of what’s been going on, and it points to that schools with appropriate safety measures have been able to do that without significant spread of COVID-19.” — Koby Levin, Chalkbeat
Listen: Koby Levin of Chalkbeat says schools could safely reopen with the proper precautions
Koby Levin is a reporter for Chalkbeat. He wrote a piece this month titled “This is the best available count of COVID-19 cases in Michigan schools. Here’s what it means.” After compiling the available state data on COVID-19 outbreaks in schools, Levin says it may be possible to safely conduct in-person learning with the right measures. “It’s an uncomfortable reality. This is not a perfect situation. The pandemic has gotten out of control. And there are a majority of public health experts and school officials who say it’s worth the risk,” he says. Although the state data is promising, Levin says it should be taken with a grain of salt. ”The quality of the data is pretty low… Still, we do have a decent picture of what’s been going on, and it points to that schools with appropriate safety measures have been able to do that without significant spread of COVID-19.”
Upgrading ventilation systems in school buildings would create safer in-person learning environments, Levin says. “The virus is still here, it hasn’t stopped spreading… And because we haven’t invested enough in school buildings, schools sometimes don’t have HVAC systems that can protect against the virus.” Because the state doesn’t fund school upgrades, many schools can’t afford to equip these safety measures necessary for protecting staff and students against infection. In terms of implementing protective filtration improvements, Levin says, “the state really is not doing anything at all.”
Web story written by Nora Rhein.