Fall sports are officially cancelled in Michigan with the Big Ten, MAC and MHSAA halting play for logical reasons. I know players are disappointed, but administrators made the right decision.
Recently, the Washington Post wrote an article about the dangers of COVID-19 in teenagers. The writer cited a Geneva study that found teenagers are nearly as likely to be infected by the virus as adults age 20 to 49. With the large team sizes, constant physical contact and travel, there is no way that football and other contact sports could continue — the risk is just too high.
If we continue to be diligent about masks, hygiene and social distancing, there is still a chance we can have a season in the spring, so remember #MaskUpMichigan!
NEW PODCAST WITH DR. JONEIGH S. KHALDUN
Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun is the Chief Medical Executive and Chief Deputy Director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. She also serves as Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s right-hand woman during the COVID-19 pandemic. In my latest podcast, Dr. Khaldun talks about the novel coronavirus, the risks associated with gathering in groups, masks, community mental health, racism as a public health crisis, and what it’s like to work as a public health officer.
$65M IN CARES ACT FUNDING DISTRIBUTED TO SCHOOLS
On Wednesday, Aug. 19, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced that she will allocate nearly $65 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars to Michigan school districts, higher education institutions, and other education-related entities that have been most significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding comes from the Governor’s Education Emergency Relief (GEER) Fund.
This includes schools in Michigan’s economically disadvantaged districts and will help address the digital divide that has served as a barrier to remote learning for students and educators across the state. Districts will receive funding based on their numbers of economically disadvantaged students, special education students, and English language learners. To be eligible for funding, the school district’s concentration of economically disadvantaged pupils, compared to total district enrollment, must exceed 50%.
Detroit Public Schools Community District stands to get nearly $4.8 million from this GEER funding.
Recipient districts will be required to use GEER funds for any of the following goals:
$5.4 million will be distributed to other education related entities, and will be distributed for statewide mental health services, public television learning resources, implementation of teacher professional learning practices, and the Early On program to help reach more infants and toddlers through remote early intervention.
LEGISLATURE PASSES RETURN TO SCHOOL LEGISLATION
On Friday, Aug. 14, the Michigan Legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer reached an agreement on procedures, benchmarks and accountability measures for the 2020-21 school year. The plan — outlined in House Bills 5911-5913 that was passed by the Senate on Saturday, Aug. 15 and by the House on Monday, Aug. 17 — includes procedures for providing state aid to school districts during pandemic learning by addressing requirements for attendance, days and hours, and the membership blend. It also mandates assessments and reporting requirements, and it pauses the kindergarten readiness assessment for this year.
The bills would allow instruction to be delivered at a school or a different location, in-person, online, digitally, by other remote means or any combination. Instruction is not required to be in real time. A previous version of the bills required in-person instruction for K-5 students, which was removed from the final version, though the bills seek for it to be prioritized.
On counting students for the 2020-21 school year — the key way schools receive funding — the bills would waive the requirement for the Michigan Department of Education to pay districts reduced state aid if their membership does not have at least 75% attendance on a day of pupil instruction.
Districts would be required to have at least two, two-way interactions with 75% of their students per week to receive payments. Those interactions would be reported monthly at required school board meetings. The bills would also base the pupil count formula on 75% of the district’s population in the 2019-20 academic year and 25% on 2020-21.
The bills have been sent to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who is expected to sign them.
MI MASK AID PROGRAM TO PROVIDE 4 MILLION FREE MASKS
On Friday, Aug. 14, Governor Whitmer was joined by Lt. Governor Gilchrist, Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon, and CEO of Ford Motor Company Jim Hackett to announce the MI Mask Aid program, which will provide 4 million free masks to low-income residents, seniors, schools and homeless shelters. The MI Mask Aid donation is a partnership involving the state, Ford Motor Company and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and is part of the Mask Up Michigan campaign.
The free masks include 1.5 million from FEMA that the state has already sent to organizations that include local Community Action Agencies serving low-income residents, MDHHS offices, Area Agencies on Aging, homeless shelters and Native American tribes. Another 1 million face coverings from FEMA and 1.5 million from Ford will go to low-income schools, the City of Detroit, Federally Qualified Health Centers, some COVID-19 testing sites and to many of the organizations listed above to reach vulnerable populations — including minority residents who have been affected by the public health crisis as a result of racism.
COVID-19 TESTING NOW REQUIRED IN PRISONS AND JAILS
On Friday, Aug. 14, Governor Whitmer signed a revised executive order on jails and prisons that requires adoption of testing protocols for Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) facilities. It also requires that jails adopt comparable protocols in order to transfer prisons to state facilities.
Under Executive Order 2020-170, which is effective until Sept. 20, MDOC must conduct testing at entry, transfer, and release of any prisoner, and suspends transfers from jails that do not adopt comparable protocols. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will support MDOC with diagnostic testing in all facilities. Any inmate who tests positive for COVID-19 must be isolated within their current facility and given the necessary medical treatment.
AUGUST IS NATIONAL IMMUNIZATION AWARENESS MONTH
August is National Immunization Awareness Month and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is urging all Michiganders to talk to their health care provider to ensure you and your family are up to date on all recommended vaccines.
Maintaining routine vaccination is critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. On-time vaccinations protect individuals and communities from vaccine-preventable diseases and outbreaks, which can help reduce the burden on the health care system. This allows Michigan health care providers to conserve medical resources in case they are needed to care for people with COVID-19.
INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION MEMBERS SELECTED
On Monday, Aug. 17, the Michigan Department of State randomly selected 13 members to serve on Michigan’s first Independent Redistricting Commission. The commissioners are charged with redrawing the boundaries of Michigan’s state and Congressional districts. This follows voters passing a constitutional amendment in 2018 that strips the authority for redistricting from the state Legislature.
Nearly 10,000 Michiganders had applied to serve on the Commission during a months-long application process. In accordance with the state Constitution, the pool was narrowed to 200 applications by random selection before the state Legislature removed 20 more applications. The 13 commissioners were selected randomly by an independent accounting firm, Rehman LLC, from the final pool of 180 applicants.
Visit RedistrictingMichigan.org to learn more.
REMEMBER: SELF-CARE INCLUDES MENTAL HEALTH
COVID-19 has created uniquely stressful times for many Michiganders and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services can help! If you’re feeling emotional distress, simply overwhelmed, or just need someone to talk to, call the National Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5950 or text TALKWITHUS to 66746. You can also find more emotional-support services and resources online at Michigan.gov/StayWell.
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