$1.3 billion plan enhances distance learning, provides flexibility
State Rep. Bronna Kahle today said a new plan unveiled in the Michigan Legislature would help keep students and their families healthy as classes resume in the fall.
The legislative plan requires local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for local communities based on their unique needs. When it makes sense, the plan will allow more emphasis on technology and distance learning to make sure education continues safely without interruption.
“No two parts of Michigan are affected by COVID-19 in exactly the same way, and as we look ahead to brighter days, this must be reflected in our plans when students return to school this fall,” said Kahle, of Adrian. “This sensible strategy will help keep Lenawee County families safe by allowing the community to come together and make decisions in our best interests.”
The plan will allow flexibility to begin instruction as quickly and safely as possible. Under the plan, school districts could start classes whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement.
The Return to Learn plan also:
• Provides an $800 per pupil payment to K-12 schools to implement a robust distance learning plan and health and safety measures to return students safely to the classroom.
• Includes a $500 per teacher payment as hazard and overtime pay and to help cover costs incurred due to transitioning to distance learning teaching plans.
• Delivers $80 million to intermediate school districts to assist schools in coordinating and implementing distance learning plans and safety measures.
• Redefines the word “attendance” to mean “engaged in instruction” rather than “physically present,” allowing schools to be innovative and give students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom.
• Limits the use of snow days to encourage the use of remote instruction when in-person instruction is unsafe or unsuitable. Moving forward, schools would be granted just two forgiven days of instruction per year.
• Utilizes benchmark assessments to provide detailed information to parents and teachers about where a student needs additional help, ensuring kids do not fall behind in the wake of the public health crisis.
• Requires school districts to work with local health departments to establish safety requirements for extracurricular activities and sports in addition to regular school safety measures.
“I was very impressed with how our Lenawee County schools and families came together to creatively continue instruction during the COVID-19 shutdown,” Kahle said. “We learned valuable lessons that will help continue and improve instruction in the months ahead.”
The plan will be referred to the House Education Committee for consideration.