EAST LANSING — The following statement can be attributed to MEA President Paula Herbart regarding the need for a post-Spring Break suspension of in-person learning:
“When we say that the health and safety of our students must be our priority, that’s not just lip service or a catchy message. As educators, nothing is more important to us – which is why we fully support the governor’s call for in-person high school learning and youth sports to take a two-week break amidst rising COVID-19 cases.
“Further, we encourage all school districts, community colleges and universities to take similar action at all levels. While the majority of PreK-12 educators are vaccinated, the same cannot be said for the students we serve. The skyrocketing caseloads among 10- to 19-year-olds threatens the health of individual students, their classmates, their families and their communities. Research has shown schools can be safe places for in-person learning, so long as community spread is under control – but with higher risk in our communities comes higher risk in classrooms.
“Too many students’ educations are being interrupted by quarantines and exposure to COVID-19. While switching to virtual learning is a challenge for educators and students alike, making a controlled switch is far less disruptive than individuals having to be quarantined for two weeks on a moment’s notice.
“The safety of our students, our state’s greatest resource, must not be a topic for ongoing political divisiveness. The only way for teachers and other education employees to be back in schools with students – something everyone deeply wants – is for everyone to play their part in our communities. That means masking up, maintaining physical distance, avoiding gatherings, getting tested (especially for those returning from Spring Break) and, above all else, getting vaccinated now that all Michiganders 16 and up are eligible.”