$1.3 billion plan implements robust distance learning, safety measures
State Rep. Aaron Miller, chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid, today joined House and Senate colleagues in unveiling a plan to ensure the safety of 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.
“Our kids need to head back in school as we now know that the consequences of being out are all too dire,” said Rep. Miller, a father to three girls and former public school teacher. “It can be done safely and sensibly under this plan.”
Miller 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 also:
• Provides a $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.
“Time is short and the window for planning is small,” said Miller. “This solution allows locals to do what they do best on their own terms.”
The plan will be referred to the House and Senate Education Committees for consideration later this week.
“Requiring masks for competing athletes across the board is senseless. I would like to know what data the governor believes supports the notion that masks are necessary in athletics, especially to protect those competing in sports where athletes are already physically distanced from one another, such as golf, tennis, or cross country.
Rep. Miller, the Chair of the House Appropriations School Aid Subcommittee, speaks on the House floor Wednesday afternoon, prior to final passage of the state’s $15.5 billion budget for the state’s 2020-2021 school year. Rep. Miller says the budget, which passed with bipartisan support, is about protecting funding.
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