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Survey of 15K Michigan educators shows health and safety concerns in returning to in-person learning

EAST LANSING – The Michigan Education Association today released a major statewide survey of more than 15,000 educators with findings related to COVID-19’s impact on public education, including the health and safety concerns that are front of mind for educators as discussions proceed about a return to in-person learning.

“The health and safety of our students, teachers, support staff and families has never been more important during the COVID-19 pandemic,” MEA President Paula Herbart said. “This survey shows us health and safety are top of mind for Michigan’s hard-working, dedicated public educators. They know their students, parents and communities best, and want to be part of decision-making in safely reopening our school buildings. Just like nurses, doctors and other public health experts have been relied on during this crisis, we will urge our lawmakers to heed the findings of this survey as we chart a path back to school.”

“The goal of our survey was to get input from front-line educators about how COVID-19 has impacted public education and, especially, how we can safely reopen Michigan’s school buildings,” said Doug Pratt, MEA’s director of public affairs. “First and foremost, educators agree that public health experts are key in this process to determine how to keep everyone safe. The survey demonstrates the level of anxiety and concern our public educators have for their students, their students’ families, their colleagues and the communities they serve.”

More than 15,000 teachers, support staff, higher education faculty and staff, and other public educators who are MEA members responded to the online survey, conducted May 14-22. Key findings include:

  • 88% agreed it was important that schools were closed to help prevent the spread of the disease.
  • 87% are concerned about health risks to students, students’ families and fellow employees in reopening schools.
  • 91% think smaller class sizes will be necessary to enforce social distancing.
  • 90% said standardized testing should be suspended until normal school operations resume, including requirements based on standardized tests (like third-grade reading retention).
  • 89% believe standards need to be set and enforced regarding future outbreaks of illness and required closure of buildings.
  • 75% expressed concerns that current evaluation practices can’t be fairly implemented to measure educator effectiveness when school resumes.
  • 75% said taking temperatures of students and staff entering school buildings and careful tracking of illnesses will be essential.
  • 74% believe schools should provide and require usage of masks and other personal protective equipment for employees.
  • 62% think current staffing and resources are insufficient for cleaning, food service, busing and other essential services.
  • 32% said COVID-19 has made them think about leaving the public education profession or retiring earlier than planned (with 8% saying they are doing so).

To view details about the survey results, go to A recording of a Zoom press presentation about the survey will be available at as soon as it is available.