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Long-term care facilities focus of executive order

MARQUETTE — To make sure long-term care facilities are operating within the requirements of law during the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is shifting the focus to long-term care facilities violating executive orders.

According to the State Emergency Operations Center, the office is increasing efforts to enforce Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order that provides rules and procedures those facilities must follow to protect the health of their employees and residents.

Executive Order 2020-148 outlines protections for residents at long-term care facilities, like barring their evictions for nonpayment, and lists several requirements those institutions must follow to safeguard the health and safety of their residents and employees.

There are more than 4,900 long-term care facilities across Michigan impacted by this executive order. Long-term care facilities include nursing homes, homes for the aged, adult foster care facilities and assisted living facilities.

Among other requirements under the executive order, long-term care facilities must cancel communal dining and group activities, implement disinfection and sanitation regimens, provide personal protective equipment to employees, inform employees of a COVID-19-positive patient, and report presumed positive cases and additional data to their local health departments and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Willful violations of this executive order are considered a misdemeanor offense, which carry a $500 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

Order issued for child-care centers, camps

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed Executive Order 2020-164, which requires face coverings to be worn in all child-care centers and camps. Michigan has seen COVID-19 outbreaks at these locations, adding to the mounting evidence that children can contract and spread the virus.

This executive order requires all staff and children ages 2 and up to wear a face covering on a school bus or other transportation.

Additionally, all staff and children ages 4 and up must wear a face covering in all indoor common spaces. All staff and all children 12 and older are required to wear a face covering when in classrooms, homes, cabins or similar indoor small-group settings.

Whitmer also strongly encourages that all children ages 2 and up wear face coverings when indoors. These rules align with the existing rules on face coverings that already apply to pre-K-12 schools across Michigan.

If a child care center is located in a region in Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan, face coverings are not required, but are still strongly recommended. Furthermore, face coverings are not required for any child who cannot medically tolerate it, during meal time, while swimming, during high-intensity activities, outside while physically distanced, or if a child is under the age of 2.

MLive reported on Wednesday that public health officials were aware of more than 50 confirmed cases and 13 probable cases of COVID-19 tied to a Christian youth camp in Gladwin County.

Union issues opinion on schools reopening

The American Federation of Teachers of Michigan on Wednesday issued its position on when and if K-12 schools should resume in-person instruction, a position developed by the union’s governing board.

AFT Michigan believes it is safe for students and staff to return to in-person instruction only when the following conditions are met:

≤ The infection and transmission rates of the virus are under control in the surrounding community;

≤ The district’s safety plan and building adaptations meet the standards established by public health experts;

≤ The district has implemented common sense human resources policies ensuring that no employee feels pressure to come to school when they should be staying at home; and

≤ The district has collectively bargained letters of agreement with all relevant unions, as required by law, and collaboratively developed a plan for virtual/hybrid learning that does not involve privatization.

These conditions, it said, build on Whitmer’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap that provides a framework to protect students and school employees while also making sure the students are getting the learning experience they need.

“We stand with students and educators across the state,” said David Hecker, president of AFT Michigan, in a statement. “In any plan to reopen schools, the well-being of students and staff must be our first priority. Our goal is to negotiate in good faith with employers and ensure schools are fully prepared to keep students and educators safe before they resume in-person instruction.”

The union said it views collective action as a “very last resort” and hopes it will not be necessary, but as its national union recently announced, if a local union deems it necessary to protect the health and safety of students and staff, AFT Michigan will support it.

“We sincerely hope we are able to reach agreements with employers and educators are not put in that position,” AFT Michigan said.

AFT Michigan is a union of 35,000 educators and health care providers working in K-12 and intermediate school districts, community colleges, universities, and hospitals across the state, according to its website at aftmichigan.org.

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