$1.3 billion plan includes robust distance learning, safety measures
Rep. Annette Glenn, R-Midland, Tuesday announced her support and sponsorship for a common-sense plan to help keep Michigan students safe as learning resumes in the fall.
The joint state House and Senate plan, announced this morning during a state Capitol news conference, requires local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique area.
Rep. Glenn’s measure, House Bill 5913, is part of the larger package and specifically 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. Her plan will create a committee oversight to ensure the state is allowing districts the flexibility to be innovative in their approach to teaching and learning.
“It’s clear we must provide flexibility for parents and teachers throughout the state,” said Glenn, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Department of Education. “This pandemic has affected different regions in different ways, and we must support our schools in beginning instruction as safely and as quickly as possible. Under this plan, school districts can make decisions based on what’s best for their students locally, working closely with their local health departments to establish appropriate safety protocols.”
Under the plan, school districts could start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement. Glenn said this will provide schools the necessary flexibility to begin classroom instruction as safely and quickly as possible.
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 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.
• Limits the use of snow days to encourage the use of remote instruction when in-person instruction is unsafe of 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 subjects in which a student needs additional help, ensuring students don’t not fall behind in the wake of the public health crisis.
• Requires school districts to also work with local health departments to establish safety requirements for extracurricular activities and sports.
Rep. Glenn says that Michigan motorists need more tax relief than the proposed three-month federal gas tax suspension would provide, noting that the Michigan Legislature has approved three tax relief plans this year, and that the Governor has vetoed every one.