$1.3 billion plan implements robust distance learning, safety measures
State Rep. Kathy Crawford, of Novi, today supported a bicameral legislative package helping ensure the safety of all Michigan students as learning resumes in the fall.
The House-Senate plan, announced this morning during a Capitol press conference, requires local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique area.
“As schools eye the fall to resume classroom instruction, the health and safety of students will be front and center,” Crawford said. “COVID-19 has affected every corner of our state, some regions more than others. If we’ve learned anything from this public health crisis, it’s that health and safety decisions should be made at the local level rather than statewide sweeping mandates. That’s why we are empowering school districts to partner with their local health departments to develop safety standards that are best suited for their communities.”
Under the plan, school districts could start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement. Crawford said this will provide schools the necessary flexibility to begin classroom instruction as quickly and safely 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 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 fully understand the fear many Oakland County parents share in sending their children back to school,” Crawford said. “These certainly are challenging times, but we can overcome them by providing our community schools with the flexibility they need to keep students and faculty healthy and safe. We need to ensure our schools are delivering the best instruction in the safest environment possible, and this is a tremendous start in seeing those efforts through.”
“These are unprecedented times we are facing and we needed a real plan to keep Michigan moving forward in a safe and sensible fashion,” Crawford said. “The Legislature has spent months hearing from concerned residents and we’ve received those concerns and developed a better course of action that will protect people and their families.”
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