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Hornberger’s Return to Learn plan approved by Michigan House
RELEASE|July 24, 2020

Innovative plan implements robust distance learning, safety measures

The Michigan House has approved a plan spearheaded by state Rep. Pamela Hornberger, chair of the House Education Committee, to ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes in the fall.

The House-Senate plan empowers local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique areas.

“COVID didn’t impact every part of our state the same way, so it makes no sense for each school district to be pigeonholed into the same reopening plan,” said Hornberger, a former Michigan public school teacher. “Experts from local school districts and health departments are best suited to determine the standards by which local students and teachers should return to the classroom. For some, that will mean continuing distance learning, for others it will mean implementing safety protocols for the classroom.”

Hornberger believes schools should have the flexibility to begin instruction as quickly and safely as possible. Under the plan, school districts could start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement.

The Return to Learn plan also:

• 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.

“However they return to learning, be it online or in person, we must ensure our students receive the education they are entitled to under our state’s constitution,” said Hornberger, of Chesterfield Township. “As a former teacher and a parent, I stand behind this plan to keep our kids safe while providing them with flexible learning options to support their futures.”

The plan now moves to be considered by the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee.

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