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Community updates: Tuesday, Aug. 4

Gov. Whitmer strengthens enforcement of Michigan face covering, capacity orders; Grand Rapids Public Schools hosting virtual town hall on distance learning plan; Rad Women Walking Tours return to downtown Grand Rapids; and more.
"P is for Patti Smith" painting – part of the Rad American Women public art project – in downtown Grand Rapids.

"P is for Patti Smith" painting – part of the Rad American Women public art project – in downtown Grand Rapids. /Downtown Grand Rapids Inc.

Gov. Whitmer strengthens enforcement of Michigan face covering, capacity orders

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive directive on Tuesday to ensure enforcement of her COVID-19 response orders, including Michigan's face covering requirement and indoor capacity restrictions.

Under the directive, state departments and agencies must consider violations of relevant COVID-19 executive orders when determining businesses' eligibility for licensing. This includes, but isn't limited to, suspending the licenses or shutting down the operations of food establishments who don't comply with the orders.

The directive also requires the state's departments and agencies to review allocation of their resources to ensure that enforcement of COVID-related laws is a priority.

"Ensuring these executive orders are enforced across the state will protect Michigan families, small businesses, and the first responders on the front lines of this crisis," said Whitmer. "By allocating the appropriate and needed resources, we can continue to save lives and ensure we don’t have to move backward."

Whitmer cited a statewide resurgence in new COVID-19 cases during July as the reason for issuing her directive. Cases rose over the past month – from a rolling seven-day average of about 15 cases per million in mid-June, the low point since the state's April peak – to about 50 cases per million in late July.

The face covering requirement in place across Michigan since July 13 applies to people in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces, with up to a $500 fine for non-compliance. Those medically unable to tolerate face coverings have been exempted.

Michigan's latest capacitiy restrictions, issued July 29, are 10 people or less for indoor gatherings across the state and 100 people or less for outdoor gatherings for most of the state, including the Grand Rapids region. The Traverse City and Upper Peninsula regions are exceptions to the 100 people outdoor gathering limit, with theirs being 250 people.

Whitmer's full Wednesday directive is available on her official website.


Grand Rapids Public Schools hosting virtual town hall on distance learning plan on Wednesday

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is inviting students, parents, staff, and the community to attend its virtual town hall on Wednesday, where the district will share more details about its proposed distance learning plan for the fall.

The town hall will be led by Leadriane Roby, GRPS Superintendent, and Ronald Gorman, GRPS Assistant Superintendent, from 5:30-7pm. They will provide an overview of the distance learning, or online-only, plan, with specifics on its implementation. Virtual attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions and make comments after the presentation.

GRPS announced on July 27 that it plans to start the 2020-21 school year online-only for the first nine weeks, in response to pandemic concerns and stakeholder feedback.

Distance learning was one of three options developed by GRPS for the fall, after Gov. Whitmer issued her Return to School Roadmap and June 30 executive order providing structure for Michigan schools’ return. The other two options were 100% in-person learning, and a hybrid of in-person and distance learning.

A live link to the August 5 virtual town hall will be posted on the GRPS' website. The meeting will also be livestreamed on GRPS' YouTube page, in both English and Spanish.


Rad Women Walking Tours return to downtown Grand Rapids

The Rad Women Walking Tours returned to downtown Grand Rapids for its second year on August 2, now running weekly through September 20.

Led by Grand Rapids Running Tours (GRRT), the tour explores 27 works of public art on electrical boxes in the downtown area. The works are based on Rad American Women A-Z, a New York Times bestselling book written by Kate Schatz and illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl.

Women featured on the electrical boxes range from political activist Angela Davis to author and fillmmaker Zora Neale Hurston. The tour gives a background on these and all other featured public figures, as well as the "Rad Local Artist" behind each artwork.

All tours meet at Rosa Parks Circle, with registration strongly encouraged, but not required. Physical distancing measures will be maintained. Registration is available on GRRT's website.

More details about the Rad Women Walking Tours are available in a 2019 statement from Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. about the tour's inaugural year.


Grand Rapids Civic Theatre's Driveway Cabaret series featured in The New York Times

Highlighting innovate ways Americans are moving activities outside during the pandemic, The New York Times tipped its hat to the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre (GRCT) in a July 31 article.

The GRCT began a mobile, outdoor "Driveway Cabaret" series in June, which was the subject included in the article. Driveway Cabaret brings Broadway concerts performed by local performers right to area residents' doorsteps.

"TJ Clark is a volunteer actor at a local community theater’s 'driveway cabaret' in Grand Rapids, Mich.," the article reads. "Teams of performers drive to patrons’ homes and put on 45-minute cabaret performances in their driveways and yards."

A host and up to 10 guests can book a 45-minute Cabaret performance for $250. Performers arrive in groups via car to sing Broadway tunes, as well as deliver a gift basket filled with GRCT concession favorites and treats from local partner businesses in Grand Rapids.

"A flagged off area keeps the performers at least 10 feet away from their audience," the article continues. "Performances include songs, tap dancing, and even seven family members all performing together. There’s now a waiting list with over 200 houses for a potential second run in August."

The July 31 article, ‘Move Everything Outdoors’: Our Readers Respond, is available on the New York Times' website. More details about the GRCT's Driveway Cabaret series is available in a Broadway World article.


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