Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed the bipartisan "Return to Learn" package of bills that were passed by the State House and Senate over the past week.
The bill outlines requirements for schools ahead of the 2020-21 school year and provides financial stability to districts by using last year's pupil count to determine this year's funding level.
“Over the past week, we have taken crucial steps to help Michigan schools and families navigate the new school year. Alongside this bipartisan agreement, I announced nearly $65 million in federal funding to help give students, parents, educators, and support staff the resources they need to provide the best and most safe education possible,” Whitmer said in a release. “These bills will help schools implement their comprehensive safety plans going into the 2020-21 school year. I am proud of this bipartisan package and will continue working with everyone who wants to ensure our schools are safe during COVID-19. These are great steps, but we will need a comprehensive bipartisan plan and funding from the federal government. It is time the Republicans in Congress to do their part to protect families and students across the country.”
Under the bills, schools will have flexibility when it comes to the number of school days, instructional hours, student count and attendance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There is also a COVID-19 learning plan that will allow districts to be flexible adapting programs.
Each district must submit their plans to the state. Schools will have to describe how instruction will be delivered, whether remote or in-person, and more.
School districts must also work with local health departments for guidelines from local COVID-19 data.
Districts and charter schools would have to outline an "extended continuity of learning” plan for approval by the local intermediate school district or charter authorizer, including the method of instruction — in person, online or other remote means and whether it is real-time or not. School boards would have to reauthorize their plan once a month and take public comment.
Schools' funding is based on their number of students. Under current law, it is a blend — between a fall count weighted at 90% and the prior spring's count weighted at 10%. The legislation would change the blend to 75% from last year's count and 25% that normally would have applied this year, costing the state $45 million because enrollment is projected to drop further.
Additional Coronavirus information and resources:
Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.
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