Thursday, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order closing all K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year. Although face-to-face learning has been suspended, remote learning will continue. Whitmer acknowledged issues that could arise from the decision.
“As a parent, I understand the challenge closing schools creates for parents and guardians across the state, which is why we are setting guidelines for schools to continue remote learning and ensuring parents have resources to continue their children’s education from the safety of their homes.”
A Continuity of Learning Plan template application is currently being developed by The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers. This will help school districts create their localized plan. The application will be available by April 3.
With learning shifting from in-person to an out of the classroom experience, there is a growing concern that some students will have less access to resources to aid their education. Each school district must now ensure that students have internet accessibility, mental health services, and meals that would normally be supplied through face-to-face learning.
“We need to educate the children we can with the systems we have in place while urgently building the capacity to serve more students as quickly as possible, assuring both access and equity,” said Michigan Virtual President and CEO Jamey Fitzpatrick.
“Our educational structure has been forever changed by this pandemic: we are addressing the many challenges and defining the ways in which remote learning can be implemented. We look forward to working with Gov. Whitmer, the legislature, the Michigan Department of Education, and school leaders in the months ahead to put solutions in place for our youth.”
The Detroit Public Schools Community District has worked since schools initially closed, due to the virus, to create new learning opportunities. The district announced Thursday they are releasing a new learning platform on April 14th.
“All of the assignments will be printed as well to address the city’s digital divide,” said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
“We are actively working with the business community to implement a strategy to provide all DPSCD families with a tablet and internet access. Our goal is to execute this commitment by early/late May.”
School districts will have the flexibility to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval. Teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year. Student teachers will still be able to get a temporary certification and current teachers will still be able to get their certifications renewed, even if they can’t meet all the requirements due to COVID-19.
Students and families will not be penalized if they are unable to participate in an alternate learning plan.
All Michigan high school seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate this year so that they may make a successful post-secondary transition. Standardized testing has also been suspended.