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Michigan students will not return to K-12 school buildings the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic but will learn remotely, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced Thursday.

All public and private schools are more than halfway through a four-week shutdown ordered by Whitmer to combat the outbreak.

She said face-to-face instruction will not resume this spring. Districts will create distance learning programs, with flexibility on how they do so — whether is is online or with printed materials sent to homes or some other option.

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The transition from classroom to online learning is creating opportunities for area community colleges donating medical supplies and patient overflow space.

Medical equipment and supplies used for educating future doctors and nurses in community college classrooms are now in the hands of local hospitals. Grand Rapids Community College donating more than 70,000 pieces of medical and personal protection equipment to neighbor Spectrum Health.

“We had filter masks, gloves, disposable gowns, protective eyewear, face shields, bleach wipes.”

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Governor Gretchen Whitmer is expected to sign an executive order this week with more details on the state’s plans for schools amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools have been closed since March 16th.

The closures keep one and a half million Michigan students at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. But with no word on exactly when or if classes will resume. Whitmer says a final decision on whether to close schools for the year is complicated. She says every school district has different resources and different needs.

Tina Freese Decker, president and CEO of Spectrum Health, Governor Gretchen Whitmer and GVSU President Dr. Philomena Mantella photo

Area hospitals are preparing for a spike in COVID-19 cases in West Michigan coordinating with area partners adding hospital bed capacity.

Grand Rapids “Medical Mile” neighbors Spectrum Health and Grand Valley State University have been preparing for a public health crisis. A plan 10 years in the making.

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Schools have been closed to increase social distancing. But now that kids are home, what rules apply to them?

Most kids want to play with their neighborhood friends and plan playdates. When it comes to the spread of COVID-19, Doctor Sharon Swindell, President of the Michigan Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics says you need to consider that children can transmit disease even if they’re not very sick themselves.

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Twenty public school districts across Kent County will continue serving meals. “Sack” type lunch and breakfast will be available for pick-up at more than 25 parking lot sites. Grand Rapids Public Schools will open four sites today adding three more tomorrow.

Kids Food Basket is also continuing providing children living at or near the poverty level sack suppers. It serves more than 8,800 school children attending 52 schools in Kent, Muskegon, Ottawa and Allegan Counties.

“A virus does not stop hunger. A virus cannot stop hunger.”

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As the new coronavirus makes its way across the country, and now arriving in Michigan, school officials are doing what they can to protect students from a possible outbreak in West Michigan. At the same time, they’re preparing in case building closures are necessary.

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Michigan State University is suspending face-to-face classes and moving to online instruction after the state's first two cases of coronavirus were announced. The move will last until April 20. School officials on Wednesday said they learned of a "probable case linked to our campus," which local health officials are investigating. Results from a test are pending. The university is urging students who do "purely remote work" to return to their permanent residences instead of staying on campus. But it will continue supporting those who need to stay in dorms and use dining facilities.

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A school district in southwestern Michigan is dropping its Redskins nickname and mascot after the superintendent urged school board members to end the contentious name. The Paw Paw school board voted 6-1 on Monday to retire the Redskins nickname by the end of the school year. Superintendent Rick Reo said last week he believes the district originally chose Redskins to "celebrate the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans." But he said times have changed, even if the intent has not. The American Civil Liberties Union last year asked the U.S.

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There are a number of college savings plans. The Michigan Education Trust is hosting open enrollment sessions this month across the state. The Michigan Education Trust is the state’s 529 prepaid college tuition plan. It’s operated by the Michigan Department of Treasury.

“And basically, it allows parents to purchase credit hours at today’s cost for the future education of their young person.”

Robin Lott is MET executive director.