$1.3 billion plan implements robust distance learning, safety measures
State Rep. Jim Lilly joined House and Senate colleagues in unveiling a plan to ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes in the fall.
The Return to Learn plan, announced Tuesday 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.
“If we want our kids to be successful, we’ve got to get them back to school, and back to learning,” said Lilly, of Park Township. “It can be done safely and sensibly under this plan without statewide mandates. Experts from local health departments know what is best for children and teachers in their unique communities and are equipped to ensure proper steps are taken to protect their health.”
Lilly said 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 utilizes federal Coronavirus Relief Fund dollars to provide an $800 per pupil payment to K-12 schools to implement classroom health and safety measures and $80 million to intermediate school districts to assist schools in coordinating those measures. 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.
The plan was referred to the House and Senate Education Committees for consideration.
“Parents across Michigan will have peace of mind as the new school year begins,” Lilly said. “This plan ensures schools utilize the advice of their local health department to choose the best mode of instruction for kids in their unique area. The safety of students shouldn’t come at the cost of their education or their futures.”
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