Innovative plan implements robust distance learning, safety measures
State. Rep. Beth Griffin, of Mattawan, and her colleagues in the Michigan House today approved a plan to ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes in the fall.
The legislature’s plan empowers local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique areas.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every single Michigan citizen one way or another, but certain regions of our state that have been impacted more than others,” Griffin said. “Because of this, we need to give our local schools the flexibility to develop their own reopening plans that work best for students, faculty and the community. Our job in Lansing is not to dictate how schools should resume instruction in the fall, but rather to provide a framework which allows each school district to decide the best way forward for our teachers and students.”
Under the plan, school districts could begin instruction 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.
• 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.
“Southwest Michigan schools and superintendents asked for guidance and flexibility and this plan delivers on that request.” Griffin said. “As long as COVID-19 is present in Michigan, safety will always take precedent. While this package is still a work in progress, we will be returning in early August to review the changes and additions made by the Senate. Assuming that plan delivers comprehensive answers to our students, teachers and parents, I will vote to approve it.”
The plan now moves to be considered by the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee.
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I recently voted to approve a bipartisan agreement helping K-12 students safely return to school this fall. As a former teacher, it’s important to me that our children receive the education they need and deserve in the coming school year.