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The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren's.

The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho's Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there'd be more family time and help with the chores.

Back of a school bus
Pixabay

Today on Stateside, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death last week sent shockwaves throughout the nation, both emotionally and politically. We talk to one of her former clerks about Ginsburg's legacy and what the future makeup of the Supreme Court means for Michigan. Plus, a former Michigan football player talks about the abuse scandal surrounding former sports doctor Robert Anderson, and the breadth of access our state institutions provide to abusers.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization at the University of Michigan, along with other student groups, gathered last night to express their disappointment in the university's administration. They held a candlelight vigil outside of President Mark Schlissel's house, which they say was to mourn their lost faith in the administration.

Lucy Peterson is a graduate student in political science and a member of GEO. She says the evening was a great way for GEO members to affirm their support for their cause, even if they were no longer on strike.

As the fall semester kicks into gear, college campuses have become the pandemic's newest hot spots. The New York Times reports there are more than 88,000 coronavirus cases at the nation's colleges and universities.

Scott Carlson, a senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education, isn't surprised by those numbers.

A young Black child with curly hair writes in a notebook while sitting in the grass
Adobe Stock

Today on Stateside, new data finds that colleges and universities are now Michigan's biggest COVID-19 hot spots. We talk to an epidemiologist about the challenges of containing campus outbreaks. Meanwhile, to make in-person learning safer, one Detroit school is moving all of its classrooms outside. Plus, one of the Detroit activists leading protests against police brutality talks about how the game changed this summer.

geo members on strike
Catherine Nouhan / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan have voted to continue their strike for another week. The university has called the strike a "profound disruption" to students' education, and has asked the Washtenaw County Circuit Court to order striking GEO members to return to work.

U of M filed a restraining order and preliminary injunction against GEO with the Wastenaw County Circuit Court. GEO leadership assured members that no individual is at risk because U of M filed an injunction, and promised to update its members as it has more information.

gretchen whitmer sitting at table
michigan.gov

Today on Stateside, a petition aiming to curb the governor's executive powers is nearing the number of signatures it needs. And, graduate students at the University of Michigan are continuing their strike against the school over concerns about COVID-19 regulations and precautions. Plus, a conversation with the director of Michigan Opera Theatre about how he plans to add to Detroit’s illustrious musical legacy.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Members of the Graduate Employees' Organization (GEO) at the University of Michigan voted to renew their strike in protest of the school's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union has been on strike since Tuesday of last week, and that strike expired on Friday. The renewed strike will last five more days, and expire on Friday, September 18, unless an offer is put forward by the university and approved by union members.

Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the union representing graduate student employees on campus. The Graduate Employees' Organization, or GEO, has been on strike since Tuesday, protesting the university's COVID-19 reopening plans. The union's list of demands include the universal right to work remotely and greater transparency from U of M in terms of the models it used to create reopening plans.

Unsplash

At this point, nearly all Michigan students are back in class for the fall semester, through Zoom meetings, physically distanced instruction, or shepherding from grownups at home. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces teachers and families to navigate a new world of education, Stateside checked in with parents feeling their way through the first days of a back-to-school season unlike any other.

Robert E. Anderson pictured in 1967.
University of Michigan / Bentley Historical Library

A retired University of Michigan administrator told lawyers that he was "furious" to learn in the late 1970s that a doctor was sexually abusing students. But Tom Easthope also acknowledges that he failed to ensure that Robert Anderson was kicked off campus.

Andrew Neel / Unsplash

June Teisan isn't a fan of national standardized testing for K-12 kids under the best of circumstances.

During a pandemic, when many school districts are offering remote instruction, she says it's unconscionable. But U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos says she will not grant waivers to states like Michigan that want to skip the testing this year.

a sign for GEO that says UM works because we do
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Undeterred by heavy rain Tuesday morning, protesters gathered around the University of Michigan’s campus, chanting and marching in protest of the school’s COVID-19 reopening plans. Today was the first day of a strike organized by the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, the union that represents graduate student employees at U of M.

kids reading. one sitting in the grass and the other sitting in a tree
Libby Johnson

For a lot of Michigan kids, the first day of school this fall means another day at home. And if the spring was any indication, even parents who have kids in a fully online school program will still need some home-schooling skills.

While COVID cases have been increasing in dorms, the University says the biggest increases are coming from group housing off-campus.
Katie Raymond

Members of the graduate student employee union at the University of Michigan have voted to approve a strike in response to the school’s COVID-19 re-opening plan. According to the Graduate Employees’ Organization, or GEO, 79% of its membership voted to approve the work stoppage.

Dustin Dwyer / Michigan Radio

Michigan colleges and universities have reported more than 930 COVID-19 cases since the start of August, according to publicly available numbers compiled by Michigan Radio.

That number is likely an undercount because many private universities do not post regular coronavirus updates on their public websites. One of the largest outbreaks in the state is at Adrian College, where college president Jeffrey Docking confirmed 131 positive cases as of last Monday. The Adrian Daily Telegraph reports the number rose to 200 cases by the end of last week, though the college hasn’t confirmed that total.

wikimedia commons

The health department in Lenawee County is recommending that Adrian College stop in-person classes after more than 150 people at the college tested positive for COVID-19.

The county also issued an emergency order to limit the size of gatherings in and around the college. Outdoor social gatherings are limited to no more than 25 people. Indoor social gatherings are limited to 10 people. Anyone who violates the emergency order could be charged with a misdemeanor.

Oakdale Academy / via Facebook

Many Michigan schools are open for in-person learning.

But even those schools look very different from normal. There are a host of state requirements schools must comply with to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

But one private Christian school is defying some of those safety mandates. And a former teacher said he was fired after he pushed back.

University of Michigan
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

Faculty members at the University of Michigan are considering a vote of no confidence in response to the university’s plan to reopen.

This comes after a memo from the school’s Ethics and Privacy Committee circulated online. The memo expresses concern that the school’s reopening plan does not meet a reasonable safety standard and notes that vulnerable populations would be the most hurt by the current plan. 

empty classroom
Adobe Stock

School is back in session for many districts in Michigan, including Detroit. If your local district, or college, or university hasn't restarted, you may at least be picking up supplies, and in some cases, technology for distance learning. But the ticker is already in motion for COVID-19 cases associated with schools.

Ron French covers education for Bridge Michigan, and he joined Stateside to talk about how the pandemic is disrupting education across the state.

A yellow school bus driving down the road
Like_the_Grand_Canyon / flickr

Michigan lawmakers are discussing ways to make school buses safer.

The House Judiciary Committee reviewed a package of bills during a hearing Tuesday.

State Rep. Jack O’Malley (R-Lake Ann) backs a bill that would make it a misdemeanor for an unauthorized person to board a school bus.

CMU's sign
Central Michigan University

With 178 cases of COVID-19 connected to the return of students to Mount Pleasant, a Central Michigan University student group is calling for the cancelation of in-person classes.

Last week, CMU officials and the local health department said they’re monitoring cases but don’t yet see a need to move to online-only instruction.

The student group released demands and posted signs across campus on Monday.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Some Detroit school teachers are not happy with a plan to return to the classroom this month during the COVID-19 pandemic. They took part in a car caravan protest on Monday.

Last month, members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers voted to authorize a “safety strike” if the Detroit Public Schools Community District didn’t “implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.”

Motown31 / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Detroit's public school system has reached a deal with its teachers' union to avert a strike over safety concerns.

The deal includes a provision that there will be no more than 20 students in a classroom, and teachers can choose to teach all online or in person. 

Teachers will also get a $750 hazard pay bonus for each semester they teach in person.

Superintendent Nikolai Vitti says life is hard enough for parents in Detroit, and the pandemic has added to the stress they experience.

back view of four kids with colorful back packs in a line of aother children
note thanun / Unsplash

Today on Stateside, after two weeks of political conventions, we’ll get an analysis about how both parties presented their nominee and what takeaways there were for Michigan voters. Plus, Monroe is making some changes to its monument honoring Civil War General George Armstrong Custer. We’ll hear from one of the people who pushed for the city to acknowledge Custer’s role in the displacement and genocide of American Indians.

Kids wearing masks at computers
Mediteraneo / Adobe Stock

Some school districts that are teaching online only are adding limited enrollment drop-off programs this fall to help ease the burden on working parents.

The students can be dropped off at school buildings, or in some cases, community centers, where they will be supervised by non-teaching staff as they attend online school, just like the students at home.

Fees typically range from about $30 to $60 a day. At Lake Orion Community Schools, the fee will be $40 a day for K-5 students.

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI).
USDA.gov

Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, Congress gave the U.S. Department of Agriculture the authority to provide students with free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic, even if they were learning remotely. This also gave the department the flexibility in distributing the food, allowing them to work with districts and community organizations. The USDA will be stopping these services at the end of the month.

In Michigan, school districts have been providing meals for students who might not have otherwise received them during the statewide lockdown.

the exterior of Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor
Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons CC BY 3.0

Today on Stateside, the summer of calls for racial justice continues into the school year. A Black student at Ann Arbor’s Pioneer High School has filed a civil rights complaint against the school, alleging racial discrimination and an overall hostile environment for Black students. Also, an interview with the editor-in-chief of Car and Driver magazine as she works to create a more inclusive car culture and dealing with a changing auto industry.

University of Michigan
Katie Raymond / Michigan Radio

This post was originally written on June 24. It has been updated to reflect any major changes to universities' plans for the fall semester.

After cancelling face-to-face classes this spring due to COVID-19, many universities across Michigan are gearing up to bring students back to campus this fall. But high-profile cancellations at other universities across the country may lead Michigan schools to re-think that plan. 

The epidemic is far from over. Cases of COVID-19 have started going back up since June in Michigan, and the state is still not testing at a high enough rate.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
Flickr user Frank Juarez / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

School districts will be looking for some hints as the state’s budget experts and economists try to forecast state revenues.

The COVID-19 pandemic and economic crash mean cuts are ahead for schools.

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