Lansing, MI–Gov. Gretchen Whitmer created a task force Friday to gather input from educators, parents, students and administrators as the state works on a pathway to reopening schools, forced to close by the COVID-19 pandemic, in the fall.

Whitmer created the Return to Learn Advisory Council on Friday to perform outreach and gather feedback, which they will report to state officials working on the roadmap.

Michiganders can apply to serve on the council at

A separate task force, created March 3 and consisting of state agencies like the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Michigan Department of Education, is working on the roadmap.

The roadmap will align with Whitmer’s MI Safe Start plan for reopening Michigan’s economy and will determine when it is safe to resume in person instruction and what precautions need to be in place when that happens.

“We’re going to come together as a state to ensure that our students, our families and our educators and communities can plan for a safe, equitable and effective return to school,” Whitmer said.

Whitmer noted schools still may not be able to reopen in the fall depending on the state of COVID-19 in Michigan at the time.

“It’s my hope that we will have some form of in person instruction come the fall,” Whitmer said. “It’s dependent on how we perform in the interim. Regardless, we have to have a plan … so that when it is safe to reengage, we’re ready to roll.”

Michigan had 50,079 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state Friday, and 4,825 people have died from the virus.

Of the confirmed cases, 1,835 are in Genesee County, and 229 people in the county have died from the virus.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...