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COLUMN: Safety, choice and proper resources all pivotal as we work to return students to Michigan’s schools
RELEASE|August 12, 2020
Contact: Ryan Berman

By State Rep. Ryan Berman of Commerce Township

As the new school year quickly approaches, I am working in the Michigan Legislature to ensure our students can return to the classroom safely and sensibly.

In-person education is critical to a child’s learning, development and mental well-being. I believe it’s an option we must have available for our state’s students and their parents this fall.

In June, I helped formulate a plan which delivers that choice while providing necessary resources for robust measures that will keep our students and teachers safe. My two children have been raised through our state’s public school system and my wife is a teacher. I am committed to their safety and the safety of every person – both student and staff – who will be in the hallways of our schools.

Our joint House-Senate “Return to Learn” plan requires school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for a particular area – as different regions of the state have experienced varying outbreak levels.

Whether a school district decides to continue with distance learning or return students safely to the classroom following consultation with their local health departments, I have supported legislation providing the resources needed for students and educators. A supplemental funding plan will give schools a net increase of $256 million in per-pupil funding, while working to fill budget shortfalls caused by COVID-19. In addition, a total of over $50 million in bonus pay will go to teachers throughout our state – helping our educators cover costs incurred from this tumultuous time. A total of over $500 million will support schools, including intermediate school districts, as they coordinate and implement safe in-person plans and distance learning plans.

The plan stresses flexibility to provide the necessary instruction to serve students within our communities and meet the needs of parents in these unique times. It allows schools to be innovative while we support their choice to continue with learning outside the classroom if they consult with their local health department and feel that’s the way to go.

But the key word in all of this is choice – and I feel parents need to have choices at the local level as the school year approaches. This includes essential in-person education.

COVID-19 has presented us with an unprecedented challenge, but we must continue to put our future generations in the best possible position to succeed.

Those efforts can’t stop. Not for a second. I am working to give schools every possible tool to educate our children in this new environment while giving parents the ability to decide what is best for their child.

State Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, serves residents in the 39th District, which includes the city of Wixom, Commerce Township, a portion of West Bloomfield Township and the village of Wolverine Lake.

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