LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Kevin Daley on Saturday voted for a bipartisan plan to help ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes this fall.
“Teachers, administrators and parents are facing some tough decisions as they weigh options for safely starting school this fall,” said Daley, R-Lum. “My colleagues and I recognize these challenges and want to give districts the ability to make decisions that reflect the best interest of their students.”
The impact of COVID-19 varies over time and across geography. Under the Return to Learn plan, school districts must develop health and safety guidelines for all in-person instruction. The guidelines must be based on local data and developed in consultation with county health departments and help inform staff, parents and the community as to how and why certain instruction models are selected.
“The virus has had a tremendously different impact in different communities across the state,” Daley said. “Local schools are in the best position to decide what form of learning is appropriate for their district.”
The Return to Learn plan gives districts flexibility on the total number of mandated instructional days and hours as long as a full school year’s worth of instruction is provided. The bills also require regular two-way interaction between students and teachers, regardless of how they are offering classes. This is intended to ensure students enrolled in distance learning options receive the benefit of personal attention.
Under this legislation, funding will be determined using a blend of the 2019-2020 school year pupil count and the 2020-2021 school year pupil count. The blended average will help ensure stability in funding levels.
The bills also require benchmark testing to be conducted in the classroom, online or at home. Test results will be shared with parents, so they understand their child’s learning needs, and they will be used by each school district to establish academic goals.
“It’s important both for teachers and parents to understand their child’s learning needs and have a plan to get them back on track in areas where they may need additional help,” Daley said.
“Parents and teachers are rightfully concerned about what the upcoming school year may bring, and this plan provides them with the information they need to begin the new school year in the safest way possible.
The bills now head to the House of Representatives, where they are expected to receive final approval and be sent to the governor for her signature.