MEA is monitoring developments related to Friday’s Michigan Supreme Court ruling against Gov. Whitmer’s ability to use executive order to help protect the public during this pandemic – particularly as it relates to schools, community colleges and universities. We appreciate Gov. Whitmer’s efforts to keep the public, our students and our members safe, and we call on education employers across the state to continue to follow the safety protocols laid out over the past few months. A few things to note:
– MEA attorneys are analyzing Friday’s ruling to assess what impact it will have on education-related measures, what alternative enforcement mechanisms might exist and what measures need to be taken up through legislative action. It is worth noting that many pressing issues about how and when schools reopen were dealt with legislatively in the “Return to Learn” bills passed in August.
– We believe any measures agreed to explicitly through locally bargained agreements remain in place – if an MEA local negotiated with a district that masks are required, for example, they remain required under that agreement.
– Monday afternoon, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order designed to maintain key health and safety measures, including requiring masks in schools. In a press statement responding to the news, MEA President Paula Herbart said: “I appreciate Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and DHHS continuing to make the health and safety of Michigan’s students and hard-working teachers, support staff and other public school employees a top priority. I applaud DHHS for continuing the mask requirement – which, along with social distancing, is our main weapon to protect our students and public school educators during the continuing pandemic.”
– Additionally, many local health authorities are already issuing rules regarding safety measures within their jurisdictions that education employers would need to abide by.
– Regardless of official government action, we all have a responsibility to contain the spread of COVID-19. Put another way, we don’t need an executive order for everyone to wear masks, socially distance, wash hands and practice good sanitization measures. Working with our locals and their employers, MEA remains committed to keeping students, educators and families safe and healthy.
MEA will update members as this situation continues to develop. Please stay tuned for further developments.