New rules for Oxford school students, a Michigan doctor catches omicron, $1.5B in biz incentives approved

Only clear backpacks, no lockers, and no tolerance for breaking the rules. District officials outlined what the return to class will look like for Oxford High School students, who won't be back in the building until after the holidays.

In what was the latest evolution in how the district responds to the state's worst mass school shooting, the Oxford School District Board met for the first time Tuesday night. About 80 people attended, including plenty of parents.

"You have to earn my trust back," a man said. "And that's by change."

The tumultuous last two weeks for the Oxford School District has left the community worried about school safety and the best steps to protect kids moving forward. Answering those questions while attempting to return to normalcy has proven to be difficult for both parents and school officials.

But according to the Superintendent, it's the best path forward.

"The sooner we can get our students back into school, the better," said Tim Throne, who had plans to retire at the end of January. In light of what happened, he's agreed to stay on as long as the search continues.

Ideally, the high school will reopen after Christmas break, Throne said. But he admitted even that was an ambitious notion.

Meanwhile, the school board voted to conduct an external investigation of the events leading up to, and including the shooting that killed four students and wounded seven other people, on Nov. 30th, while cooperating with the current criminal investigation conducted by the sheriff’s office

MORE STORIES: Oxford High School Shooting Coverage

Oxford Community Schools will remain closed the rest of the week following a very "specific threat" that police were investigating. Despite law enforcement deeming the district buildings safe, officials decided to close the school for the community's mental well-being. 

"Many in our community have expressed concern surrounding yesterday's threat and do not feel ready to return," read a letter that was sent to parents. "This has caused us to pause and consider the current needs and emotional well-being of our school community. Therefore, we have decided to close all district school buildings for the remainder of the week. Please see your email from OCS for details."

Magazine limits won't solve mass shooting problem, Detroit gun shop owner says

Michigan Democrats have introduced a bill that would limit residents from purchasing firearm magazines that hold more than 10 rounds. The legislative response to the Oxford mass shooting is one that typically follows similar incidents that have occurred in other states.

But pushback on those proposals quickly follows. Chad King, the president of the Black Bottom Gun Club, says that magazine limits would not solve the problem. He points to the tragedy at Virginia Tech as proof. "That shooter, he had 174 rounds and about 17 magazines total," King said. "That means on average his magazine fill was 10 rounds per magazine."

In a letter opposing the bill, King says the legislation would only impact law-abiding citizens, and harm Black gun owners. But lawmakers have argued that research shows states with limitations on magazine size experience mass shootings "less than half the rate of states that do not" have those limits.

Any hearings on the bill won't be scheduled until 2022. 

Doc who caught Omicron: Pandemic isn't just due to the unvaccinated

By her measure, Debra Furr-Holden did everything right. The dean of Public Health Integration at Michigan State University is vaccinated. So were most of the guests at the wedding she attended. Many were even boosted. Instead, the happy occasion has turned into a superspreader event. 

"Many of us are boosted, many of us had negative Covid tests 24 to 48 hours before the wedding – yet this still happened," she said. About a dozen medical professionals, the bride and groom, and Furr-Holden tested positive for the virus. While guests wore masks at the ceremony, they didn't at the reception.

"Swiss cheese – no one layer is perfect and they all have holes in them," she said. "But as you begin to stack those layers up, you build a wall between you and virus. The problem is, we put an over-emphasis on the vaccine and de-emphasize all of those other layers of protection."

While those that remain unvaccinated continue to perpetuate the mass spread of Covid, Furr-Holden says the country shouldn't reject using safety measures like wearing a mask and social distancing as those remain effective tools at preventing infection.

Review of voter fraud cases finds too few to tip 2020 election

A review of voter fraud cases in the six battleground states where 2020 ballots were contested by former President Donald Trump found that far too little evidence that could have flipped the presidential race.

Joe Biden won Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin by a combined 311,257 votes. The number of potential cases of voter fraud reviewed by the Associated Press in those states? 475 - a number that would have made no difference in tipping the scales.

In Michigan, officials identified 56 potential instances of voter fraud in five counties - about 0.04% of Biden's margin of victory in the state. Most of those cases involved two people suspected of submitting about 50 fraudulent requests for absentee ballots in the tri-county area. All suspicious applications were flagged by election officials and no ballots were cast improperly.

Contacted for comment, Trump repeated a litany of unfounded claims of fraud he had made previously, but offered no new evidence that specifically contradicted the AP’s reporting. He said a soon-to-come report from a source he would not disclose would support his case, and insisted increased mail voting alone had opened the door to cheating that involved "hundreds of thousands of votes."

State approves $1.5B in business incentives

Michigan legislators late Tuesday passed a $1.5 billion bill with state incentives to land major business projects, including an electric vehicle battery factory that General Motors wants to build in the Lansing area.

Once Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signs the funding and related bills into law, $1 billion in state revenue will go to the new Strategic Outreach and Attraction Reserve Fund. Legislative budget committees would have to approve transfers from the account to new site readiness and "critical industry" funds before the state’s economic development board could distribute grants, loans and other assistance to companies.

"Thanks to the effective collaboration of legislative leadership in both parties, our state will be competitive for every dollar and every job for years to come," the Democratic governor said in a statement. The funding legislation was approved on 25-11 and 78-25 votes in the Senate and House before lawmakers adjourned for the year.

As part of the deal, she will sign $409 million in aid for restaurants and other businesses that lost money in the pandemic. The Republican-controlled Legislature also approved a $75 million tax cut for businesses that pay taxes on nonindustrial equipment and personal property. The exemption, based on the value of the equipment, would rise from $80,000 to $180,000 per parcel.

What else we're watching

  1. A Metro-Detroit based funeral home business is facing a lawsuit that it mistakenly delivered the wrong body to a family of a man who died earlier this year. Lawyers allege the funeral home mistakenly cremated the man.
  2. An attorney with Geoffrey Fieger, who has filed a federal lawsuit against Oxford schools on behalf of one of the students, says the lawsuit led to death threats.
  3. The Toledo Zoo will host a student group from the Detroti Pistons' Math Hoops Program today, which is aimed at finding creative ways to teach math and statistics.
  4. The Wayne County prosecutor has charged four more juveniles with making alleged threats of violence against schools within the county. They include students at Detroit, Redford, and New Boston.
  5. Some 60% of transactions done through the Secretary of State can be done online, Jocelyn Benson said Tuesday as she announced new improvements to the agency branches.

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Daily Forecast

It's going to be a warm one Wednesday as temperatures swing up into the 50s, bringing some rain throughout the day and a wind advisory at night. People should plan on high winds until Thursday afternoon, when temperatures peak this week in the 60s.

Child tax credit 2021: Families to receive final payment on Dec. 15

Families eligible for the expanded child tax credit as part of the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan will receive the last payment on Dec. 15, though more could follow in the future — pending congressional moves.

The expanded child tax credit payments could potentially be extended into 2022, but those payments are tied to President Joe Biden’s social and environmental spending bill which has stalled in the Senate.

One reason for the delay in passing the spending package is because the Senate is evenly divided and Republicans oppose the legislation unanimously. One of the Democratic party’s final holdouts, Sen. Joe Manchin, has been pushing for months for Democrats to curb the bill’s size and drop some initiatives, including one requiring paid family and medical leave.

Manchin said that he’s still not ready to back his party’s $2 trillion social and environmental legislation, then talked to Biden on Monday as party leaders scrambled for a pathway to advance the long-stalled package — preferably by Christmas.