Gov. Gretchen Whitmer forms council to create school reopening plan; hopes to have students in class this fall

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is announcing a council that will seek out plans to allow schools to resume in the fall after the spring 2020 school year was ended abruptly in mid-March due to Coronavirus.

Gov. Whitmer signed an executive order on Friday to create the Return to Learning Advisory Council that will formalize a process for how schools may be able to reopen during this pandemic.

The council will be made up of students, parents, frontline educators, administrators, and public health officials. Together, they will provide the COVID-19 Task Force on Education with recommendations on how to safely, equitably, and efficiently return to school in the fall of 2020. 

The COVID-19 Task Force on Education was formed by Gov. Whitmer in early March to study how schools could respond to COVID-19.

The Governor said it's her hope that there will be in-person instruction in the fall but that it is dependent upon everyone wearing a mask and keeping up the efforts that have worked thus far.

On April 2, she announced that schools would remain closed for the duration of the school year. The original Task Force is tasked with recommending a roadmap and framework for schools to utilize to plan for various public health scenarios. 

Moving forward, the Task Force will be informed by the Return to School Advisory Council, including voices from educators, health experts, and other community stakeholders. The Advisory Council will gather critical stakeholder feedback on the content of the Roadmap. 

Gov. Whitmer said the plan to return to schools will reflect the MI Safe Start Plan to make sure students, teachers, and staff return to schools in a safe manner.

The Advisory Council will provide the COVID-19 Task Force on education with recommendations on how to safely, equitably and efficiently return to school in the fall and assemble critical voices from education, public health and communities across the state to identify the key issues schools must consider before opening, including:

  • Performing outreach to ensure the voices of stakeholders are included in the discussion of implementing the 2020-2021 school year in these challenging and uncharted circumstances. 
  • Ensuring experts in public health and epidemiology are informing the discussion of safety returning to school. 
  • Recommending actions to remove statutory/administrative barriers to delivering education before we are at Phase 6 of the MI Safe Start Plan. 
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for remedial support for students who experienced learning loss during the spring and summer. 

Anyone interested can apply for the Return to Learn Advisory Council by going to and click ‘apply now’ under boards and commissions. You will be able to choose Return to School Advisory Council under the appointment information tab within the application. Applications are due by Wednesday, May 20.e