Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shuts down schools

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday, March 13, orders the temporary closure of all schools in the state, alongside state officials and an interpreter. 

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer late Thursday announced the closure of all K-12 public, private, and boarding schools from Monday through April 5 after the number of the state’s presumptive positive cases of the novel coronavirus reached 12.

“This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health,” Whitmer said. “I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food.”

"I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families.”

Governors in Ohio and Kentucky have taken similar measures.

“Closing our K-12 school buildings is the responsible choice that will minimize the risk of exposure for children, educators, and families and mitigate the spread of coronavirus,” Michigan State Superintendent Michael Rice said.

“The Department of Education will continue to work closely with our partners in state government to help our students and educators in each school district get through this time. This is about protecting the most people in Michigan.”

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Chief Deputy for Health and Chief Medical Executive Dr. Joneigh Khaldun backed the move.

“These actions will help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan,” Khaldun said. “I will continue to work with Governor Whitmer and our four COVID-19 task forces to ensure we protect our children, our families, and our communities."

Those specimens tested positive in the state and will be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for confirmation.

COVID-19 is a respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus that has caused at least 41 deaths in the U.S. 

Symptoms can appear between two and 14 days after exposure and include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Most cases result in only minor symptoms, but some, including in senior citizens and people with pre-existing conditions, can develop more severe symptoms.

Health officials recommended the following precautions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds. If not available, use hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • If you are sick, stay home, and avoid contact with others.

The virus has shuttered public colleges, sports leagues, and festivals across the state.

The Legislature passed a bill Thursday that, if enacted, would pump $25 million into combating the virus.

Staff Reporter

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on Forbes.com and FEE.org. Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.