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GRCC President Pink tapped by Gov. Whitmer for council helping schools emerge from pandemic

Feb. 4, 2021 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Community College President Bill Pink was tapped by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to be part of an advisory board looking at what tools and resources Michigan students will need to get back on track as the state emerges from the pandemic.

Pink is one of 33 educators and lawmakers from across the state appointed Thursday to the Student Recovery Advisory Council, which will be headed by Godfrey-Lee Superintendent Kevin Polston.

“Education is vital to our state’s recovery, and collaborations such as this council will help all of Michigan move forward,” Pink said. “These are unprecedented and difficult times. The pandemic created some gaps, and exposed others. This group will look at what our schools and communities need, not just to get back to where we were, but to where we need to be. I’m honored to be part of this council.”

Whitmer said the council reflects a diverse geographic and demographic composition of the state and represents parents, students, school leaders, educators, community members and individuals with expertise in public health, pediatrics and mental health. The terms expire on Dec. 31, 2021.

Pink was selected to represent school leaders and is the only member from higher education.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Michigan hard, and our students, families, teachers, and school staff have all felt the strain,” Whitmer said. “Still, our educators have worked tirelessly to teach our children during this pandemic under the most stressful conditions, and for that, our state is forever indebted to them for their service.

“It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed, including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals and mental health supports. COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities in our education system, and we know more work is needed to address the significant impact this pandemic has had on our children. This council will be integral to ensuring our students and educators are equipped with everything they need to thrive.”

The council is tasked with: 

  • Developing and submitting recommendations to the governor, state superintendent and state budget director regarding student recovery. 
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss because of COVID-19.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for mental and physical health for students impacted by COVID-19.
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve systems to support high school students transitioning into postsecondary education. 
  • Recommending actions to develop and improve out-of-school time supports, including, but not limited to, summer school, before- and after-school programs, and extended school years. 
  • Assembling critical voices from the education and public health communities to assist in identifying key challenges students face due to the pandemic. 
  • Providing other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor.
  • Reporting regularly to the governor on its activities and make recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Last summer, Whitmer created the Return to School Advisory Council, which developed a framework to inform K-12 districts planning for the 2020-2021 school year.

"It is an honor to serve as the chairperson of the Student Recovery Advisory Council,” said Polston. “Last summer, this collaborative group of engaged citizens developed the MI Safe School Roadmap, which was vital to supporting in-person learning.  We look forward to ‘fixing the road ahead’ for the state of Michigan through a safe, equitable, and high-performance educational system that provides access and opportunity for each child to reach their full potential." 


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