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Reyes appointed to COVID-19 school advisory council by governor

Hurley Pediatrics Residency Program Director Gwendolyn Reyes MD is known for her pediatric advocacy, interest in public education and public health, her clinical knowledge and skills, and for her organizational skills, so it's no surprise that she was named to a statewide council by Michigan's Governor Gretchen Whitmer on June 3, 2020, to address the return to school after a long break due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pediatric Advocacy Day at the Michigan State Capitol
Even as a resident physician, Dr Gwen Reyes (far right) was advocating for children. (Hurley file photo, April 2015)

Whitmer named 25 leaders in health care and education to serve on the COVID-19 Return-to-Learn Advisory Council for the state. The group includes educators, parents, and students. Reyes, a Grand Blanc resident, is the only pediatrician on the advisory council.

"When I received the call that I was appointed to the council, I was thrilled and extremely honored," said Reyes. "The work of the council is so important to me as a pediatrician, for my patients and my own family, so to have a role in this essential work is exciting."

Reyes has plenty of background in health and in education to help her live up to expectations on the council. In addition to her residency program director duties, Reyes precepts residents in the Hurley Children's Clinic in Flint (where she also serves as assistant clinic director), oversees the inpatient nursery at Hurley Children's Hospital, serves as medical director of Flint Public Schools' School Wellness Program, and has two kids of her own.

Reyes said her service on the council is important in her role as a pediatrician and a pediatric residency program director.

"I not only care for my patients and their families in the clinic and hospital, but I also am a role model and an educator," she said. "Pediatricians are experts in children, and it's our job to advocate to optimize their potential - their educational opportunities are such a huge part of their future successes."

The clinical assistant professor from Michigan State University College of Human Medicine is to serve from June 3, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020.

Reyes is not the only person on the council with ties to Flint. Ridgeway H. White of Fenton is president and CEO of the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, headquartered in downtown Flint. He represents community members on the council and also serves through Dec. 31, 2020.

According to a June 3, 2020, press release from the governor's office, the Advisory Council "was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school, and to ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school." It is to advise the governor and a separate COVID-19 Task Force on Education, developing recommendations on the "safe, equitable, and efficient" return to school for K-12 students in fall 2020.

Specifically, the group is to "recommend actions to remove statutory and administrative barriers to delivering education before Phase 6 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan and help to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss" during spring and summer of 2020 due to the pandemic.

Read Dr. Reyes' bio.