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Lt. Gov. Gilchrist: Michigan needs more federal aid to restart schools safely

Ariana Taylor
The Detroit News

Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist is calling out the U.S. Department of Education for its lack of involvement in helping schools across the state restart.

On CNN's "Inside Politics" on Sunday morning, Gilchrist said the federal government needs to step up with more financial support.

"The truth is the Department of Education at the federal level has been a dismal failure in terms of making those resources available," said Gilchrist while on CNN. 

Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist on CNN

Last week, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel joined other state attorneys general in suing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for a policy requiring public school districts to split coronavirus relief funds with private school students. Nessel said DeVos' policy will cut aid to Michigan public schools by $16 million.

"We've been putting out this mandate for schools to start saying we have allocated resources but $256 million ... We're going to need a lot more because our education professionals deserve to be safe when they go into schools to educate our children," Gilchrist said. 

Gilchrist said Michigan residents also need to do their part by wearing masks, practicing social distancing, and limiting trips outside the home. 

"The politicization of schools during the coronavirus — it really disgusts me, I mean as a parent of twin six year-olds who will be entering the second grade in the fall, I want my kids to be safe I want every child in the state of Michigan and frankly the country to be safe," Gilchrist said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last week that she would not send students, teachers and staff into schools unless it was safe, adding that the trajectory of COVID-19 cases in Michigan was "very concerning."

“If we all do our part, we can re-engage, we can get our kids back in school," Whitmer said. "But at this trajectory, it’s very unsure."

On Saturday, Michigan reported over 600 cases of coronavirus for the third time in a week. Michigan had a six-week high for newly confirmed infections last week, surpassing 2,500 cases during the week ending July 4.

"We've always said that as the data and the facts and the evidence showed that our numbers are improving we will reengage. But if they go in the wrong direction, we may have to take a step back and that's exactly what's been happening now," Gilchrist said. 

"That's what we're always going to do put people first, put our kids first, what our school needs versus the other considerations."