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State Board of Education vice president talks about plan to get students back into schools

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 5:50 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) - (07/22/2020) - Many schools have rolled out initial plans to reopen-- most offer a virtual learning option.

But what about a plan to keep students safe in the classroom?

Wednesday, the State Board of Education vice president discussed a plan that all schools in the state could adopt.

“I think all schools want to do the right thing. I think they are under incredible pressure to make decisions right now,” said Healthy Schools Network Executive Director Claire Barnett.

Pressure to make sure students return to a safe environment this fall--- as the country continues to work to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

“This is our opportunity and our moment to place children and schools at a priority level for protection,” said National Black Environmental Justice Network Executive Director Donele Wilkins.

Dr. Pamela Pugh held a virtual press conference Wednesday to introduce a plan to help with that process.

The plan includes having schools address what Pugh calls exposure risks.

Those include ventilation, indoor air, plumbing, ongoing cleaning, monitoring and maintenance plans.

"We know as buildings lie dormant and the water is not being flushed then we have the potential or inadequate disinfection," Pugh said.

They also want to address the racial disparities in Black and Brown communities. All of this needs to be done before school opens.

"And we would hope the state would help to make those decisions as well as the local boards. To be thinking through and doing that check list to see if they are ready to be open right now or to reopen," Pugh said.

Funding also needs to be addressed.

“The pandemic hits everybody and the approach where everybody makes their own decisions it will deepen the disparities and it will sow more confusion, I think,” Barnett said.

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