LASATA: Resources, help available during coronavirus emergency

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” executive order has been in place for two weeks. Many of us, including our students, have been home for longer. While shelter-in-place orders are helping slow the spread of the virus, this time away from work and school is also proving to be challenging.

Nothing can replace a student’s instructional time with a teacher, and despite great efforts from our school districts, educators and parents to provide educational enrichment at home — it is not the same. This has put a strain on parents to get creative in finding ways to keep their children engaged.

Fortunately, the internet is a wonderful resource and, because most internet service providers are waiving data caps during this time, there is freedom to surf educational resources without concern for racking up the bill.

If you have been looking for high-quality educational content, here are some good places to start:

• The Henry Ford Museum offers an extensive digital collection that can keep you entertained. Visit

• The National Museum of American History has resources to keep kids busy while at home. Visit

• The San Diego Zoo is offering free virtual visits with live cams to several of its animals and habitats. Check it out at

• The National Park Service also has loads of great free educational content available at

• Google Earth’s Voyager is a showcase of interactive guided virtual tours, quizzes, and information to help educate. Learn more at

• The Michigan eLibrary is offering a Learning in Place website, with links to free educational resources. You can learn more about its offerings at

Our local libraries, while physically closed, still offer great content that is available for free electronically. By using apps like Overdrive, Libby, Hoopla, Bookflix and Kanopy, library card holders have free access to thousands of books, audiobooks, magazines, and movies and tv shows. You can find your local library’s website here:

Lastly, I would like to say a word about our mental health. The disruption that this virus has caused, with the uncertainty and fear that can accompany it, is affecting many in ways they perhaps didn’t know or think possible. It is important that we check in on our loved ones during this time and offer help and support when possible. If you are having a hard time, you are not alone. If you want to talk to someone, there is help.

• Michigan 211 is available all day every day to connect with help of all kinds. Go to or call 2-1-1.

• The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7/365 crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to natural or human-caused disasters, like COVID-19. Call (800) 985-5990 or visit

• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress and prevention and crisis resources. Call (800) 273-8255 or go to

• The National Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24/7/365 to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship. Call (800) 799-7233 or visit

• Religious leaders are also of great benefit during times of need. If you attend a local parish, church or other place of worship, consider reaching out to them as well.

Serving southwest Michigan in the state Senate is an honor, and while my Lansing office is physically closed during the emergency, my staff and I continue to serve you, and we’re available to provide help where we can. Please call (517) 373-6960. People may also email my office at

To stay up to date on other legislative and district communications, follow my website at and visit