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Wakeman: Return to Learn plan gives schools maximum flexibility, empowers students and parents
RELEASE|August 17, 2020

Legislature, governor reach bipartisan agreement

State Rep. Rodney Wakeman and the Michigan House today approved a bipartisan agreement to help K-12 students safely return to school this fall.

Wakeman, of Saginaw Township, said the plan will allow school districts to determine the best course of action for their students, be it online, in person, or hybrid instruction, based on consultations with local health departments.

“Simply put, our kids need to return to the classroom – be it in-person instruction or through virtual learning,” Wakeman said. “I’ve been in regular communication with Saginaw County school leaders about the upcoming school year and one thing remains clear: we must provide our schools with the flexibility they need to empower students and parents while balancing public safety. We all know COVID-19 continues to have a disproportional impact on various regions of Michigan. A one-size-fits-all approach isn’t going to benefit every school district. That’s why we are allowing schools to partner with area health departments to develop standards that maximize student learning and ensure students and faculty are safe.”

Wakeman also said providing parents with the opportunity to voice their concerns is crucial to keep the school district and community informed of needed adaptations and hold locally elected officials accountable. Under the legislation, school boards will be required to reexamine and recertify how they are delivering instruction to students at their monthly board meetings for the duration of the 2020-21 school year. 

Additionally, local benchmark assessments will provide detailed information to parents and teachers about where a student needs additional help to ensure they stay on track. Under the plan, if districts determine that it is safe to offer in-person learning, they are encouraged, but not required, to prioritize in-person instruction to K-5 students.

The coming school year will pose significant additional costs to school districts as they work to impose new safety standards and innovative teaching methods, the Legislature previously dedicated a total of $583 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to Michigan schools, including:

  • $350 additional per student across the board, ensuring schools have the resources they need to educate children.
  • More than $50 million in hazard pay for educators who have been flexible and innovative in the face of unprecedented challenges. 
  • $18 million for safety measures and local benchmark assessments to ensure kids stay on track with learning. 

The plan now advances to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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