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September 25, 2020

Gov. Whitmer Issues EO Mandating Masks for K-5 Students


We may have to start sending our Legislative Updates on Saturday, as moments ago, Gov. Whitmer issued a new executive order pertaining to K-12 schools. 
 
Executive Order 2020-185 requires all students in grades kindergarten and up in regions 1-5 and 7 to wear a face covering in classrooms. Prior orders had recommended, but not required, a face covering for grades kindergarten through five. This change comes as we prepare for an imminent flu season. This alters the language in EO 2020-142, but only section 2(b)(1)(D). The rest of EO 2020-142 remains in effect. Undoubtedly, you’ll have questions regarding exemptions. The same guidance for K-5 would apply for 6-12, and we encourage you to consult with local legal counsel or local health departments for clarity on this subject.
 
E.O. 2020-185 also requires school districts and nonpublic schools to publish information about any cases of a probable or confirmed COVID-19 positive individual present on school property or at a school function during the period of infection. The E.O. specified that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will describe the process for this reporting. MDHHS is also authorized to issues orders to implement this. We have been in touch with the administration and have been assured MASA and MASA member input will be sought on this topic. As we’ve asserted all along, we must ensure that the data coming out of local health departments and DHHS is accurate and complete so that posting of that data isn’t done erroneously, causing unnecessary angst in a community. 
 
These two changes will be in effect on October 5. 
 
You can find the text of E.O. 2020-185 here.
 
Additionally, Gov. Whitmer issued EO 2020-183. EO 2020-183 states that beginning October 9, a number of previously closed businesses are slated to reopen statewide, including indoor theaters, cinemas, performance venues, arcades, bingo halls, bowling centers, indoor climbing facilities, trampoline parks, and more.
 
Under E.O. 2020-183, instead of being limited to 10 people, non-residential indoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 20 people per 1,000 square feet or 20 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in Michigan’s largest venues. Non-residential indoor venues must require a face covering. Instead of being limited to 100 people, non-residential outdoor gatherings and events now must limit attendance to 30 people per 1,000 square feet or 30 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 1,000 people. Regions 6 and 8 are subject to the same rules covered in the revised MI Safe Start order, except non-residential indoor venues may allow up to 25 people per 1,000 square feet or 25 percent of fixed seating capacity, with a maximum of 500 people in the regions’ largest venues.
 
We are seeking clarification on how these specifically impact schools but believe this is good news for outdoor activities specifically, like marching band, etc.
 
On an entirely unrelated note, but still linked to COVID-19, Sec. of Education Betsy DeVos has told state superintendents across the country that she will not pursue further legal challenges to the ruling that blocks her attempt to distribute more CARES Act money to private schools than Congress intended. This is a victory from our perspective, and we are glad that we can finally move on. We await further guidance from the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) on this front, but know officials at MDE have been working very hard to deliver information to members in a timely manner.
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