State Rep. Ryan Berman, of Commerce Township, today issued a statement offering reassurance in the evolving coronavirus situation as it relates to Michigan schools, students and teachers:
“As we proceed forward, I feel it is necessary to set the record straight on information that has been circulating about the remainder of the school year and the impact it will have on our state’s students and teachers.
“I fully support having any online learning and independent assignments count toward instructional hours during this crisis. Although the Michigan Department of Education had originally asserted this instruction cannot count for public schools, I will be working in the Legislature on adjusting state law to allow days out of school for this public health emergency to be counted as instructional days. We review laws all the time as legislators and make changes when its best for the people of Michigan, and I certainly think it would be possible to do that here.
“The House recently passed a school appropriations plan for the upcoming fiscal year in overwhelming fashion. The Legislature was asked to add language that would waive school days missed, but doing so preemptively would have had us flying blind. It is still too early to review, add in and vote on such measures because we still do not know the extent of shutdowns and the ultimate length of our school closures. It is an unfolding process, and we are working at the same time to ensure the health and safety of people in Oakland County, throughout southeast Michigan and across the state.
“At this time, focus should be on local school districts, as they determine whether workers get paid. Teachers are typically salaried employees and all districts have already been funded for this current school year based on previously signed state funding proposals. Any information out there to the contrary, or that teachers may potentially be laid off because of this three-week shutdown, is categorically false.
“We need to think of students first and what’s best for them. This is not an easy issue, but these aren’t easy times. If we all work together for what’s best, we can hopefully generate a satisfactory resolution.”
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