After Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer urged school districts to move forward with an option for in-person learning, Farmington Schools trustees cancelled a special Friday board meeting.
The only item on the 5:30 p.m. agenda was a motion to delay the start of all in-person instruction until at least January 25. By Thursday night, 368 parents had signed an online petition strongly opposing the move.
FPS students have been in remote learning since March of 2020. Officials rolled back a plan to offer in-person classes for K-5, early childhood, and special education students after infection rates spiked in November.
Trustees heard hours of public testimony during their regular meeting on Tuesday. Most parents and teachers who spoke urged them to delay in-person learning. After an update on the district’s safety plan, the board let stand the January 11 date for younger students and a January 25 return date for grades 6-12.
On Friday, Whitmer strongly encouraged “as much face-to-face learning as possible, especially for our youngest students, especially for economically disadvantaged students, and students with special education needs and English language learners.”
In-person learning provides “a key benefit for many parents who rely on their children to be at school so they can do their work”, Whitmer said, and some students struggle with remote learning. Mitigation plans are working in schools that are offering in-person learning, she added.
Teachers are among those eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on Monday. Whitmer said she and seven other governors have asked the Trump administration to release more doses of the vaccine.
In a statement released Friday afternoon, the Board of Education apologized for concerns raised by the meeting notice:
“Based on research done across the country and across the world, schools can be lower risk environments for students and staff when they implement strict infection-control measures. We apologize for any unnecessary concern this may have caused to our students, families, and staff members. We do not take our duties to serve this community lightly. We look forward to Monday and the start of bringing our students and staff back for in-person learning.”