Jill Biden visiting Michigan to discuss safely reopening schools

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This article was written by Malachi Barrett of Michigan Live on September 22, 2021.

First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona will visit Oakland Community College on Friday to wrap up a bus tour highlighting communities that are safely returning to in-person learning.

Biden is scheduled to meet with U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Bloomfield Township, at OCC’s Royal Oak Campus to discuss the president’s “Build Back Better” agenda. The Department of Education has four events planned Thursday in Mount Pleasant, Lansing, Detroit and Canton focused on the administration’s support for tribal colleges, early childhood education and family literacy programs.

The American Rescue Plan provided more than $130 billion in K-12 emergency relief funds to support the return to in-person learning. Funds can be used to improve ventilation systems, encourage vaccinations, performing testing and contact tracing and address the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students.

The Department of Education released a set of recommendations for schools returning to in-person instruction last month. The roadmap urges schools to encourage vaccinations among staff and eligible students, require mask-wearing where possible in settings where everyone is unable to be vaccinated and implement COVID-19 testing, along with other recommendations. 

Those recommendations are similar to guidance issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The state health department recommends recuiring universal masking for all students, staff, and visitors regardless of community transmission rate or vaccination status.

The “Return to School Road Trip” started this week and featured Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. 

The first lady last visited Michigan in May, when she attended a vaccination clinic at Grand Rapids Community College.