Whitmer Says School Will Resume This Fall, Gives Casino Reopening Timeline


(WWJ) Gov. Gretchen Whitmer chatted with WWJ 950's morning show Tuesday on a wide range of topics from casino to school re-openings, toll roads, racism, defunding police and nursing home coronavirus cases.

Among the headlines, Whitmer said school will resume in-person this fall, though it won't look like the kind of school parents are used to. She didn't elaborate.

But she did get unusually concrete in a discussion about when Detroit casinos will re-open, saying, "We should be moving the rest of the state into phase five in short order. I said two weeks ago it was my intent to get there before July 4 assuming the numbers continue the direction they have been."

She added: "I would anticipate that in the coming week or two, we'll be there, and that would be good news. We just ask that people continue take this seriously. It's really important. None of us wants to move backwards, we'll keep moving forward."

The casinos have been shut down since March 16 under executive orders to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and when they reopen, Detroit casinos will have a lot of new rules to follow. The Michigan Gaming Control Board today approved the new protocols which call for MGM Grand, Greektown and MotorCity to limit capacity and gamblers' temperatures for signs of a fever that could be caused by COVID-19. 

The minimum guidelines from the MGCB for initial opening include: Limit of 15 percent the legal capacity at each casino; Limited entrance points with temperature checks; A ban on smoking on the casino floors; No poker rooms during initial opening; No concerts, nightclubs, live events or shows; No buffets; No valet or coat check services; Heightened cleaning protocols; Social distancing

"We continue to be a state of emergency where the actions taken have to be around promoting the public health," Whitmer said.

While those plans are detailed, there's confusion around the rules regarding protests as thousands of people take to the streets en masse to protest police brutality. Whitmer said for the sake of public safety, protesters should mask up, not touch each other, and social distance as much as they can to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. She added it is their lawful right to protest.

Some supporters of the protests are calling for a citizens review board in Michigan to figure out the way forward for police in the wake of protests that have swept the country following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. While Whitmer won't detail a plan or weigh in on calls to defund police, she would say, "I am working very closely with our law enforcement leaders, the activist community, civil rights proponents to make sure we have a robust roundtable as we promulgate what our best practices are going to be."

She added: "I welcome any suggestions for how we can get this right." 

The state also has to get the return to classrooms right, parents and educators agree. So, what's the plan for the fall? Will public schools be able to return in-person instruction or will learning continue to be remote?

Whitmer said a report is due by the end of the month on best practices for safe schooling in the fall.

"That's our hope (in person classes)," Whitmer said. "Kids I believe will be back for some form of in-person instruction but it might look different than what we're used to and it's going to be an adjustment for all of us."

"Until we have a vaccine, we have to figure out how to live with COVID-19. And it is going to take resources. That's why I'm putting so much emphasis on how important it is that the United States Senate and the president get this fourth supplemental, the Heroes Act, done so that we can make sure we're in a position to make those investments and keep our kids safe as we re-engage for in-person instruction in the fall."