Plan could improve return to school

Michigan 105th District State Rep. Triston Cole (R-Mancelona) today announced details of the Michigan Legislature’s plan to ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes in the fall.

The plan, announced this morning during a Capitol press conference, requires local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards best for their individual communities.

“Rather than making another sweeping statewide mandate, this plan gives our local schools the flexibility they need to make decisions about what’s best for the health, safety and education of students,” said Cole, of Mancelona. “Local health experts and educators – not politicians – are best suited to determine the health and safety protocols that should be put in place for their communities.”

Cole said schools would have the flexibility to begin instruction as quickly and safely as possible. Under the plan, school districts could start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement.

The Return to Learn plan also:

  • Provides a $800 per pupil payment to K-12 schools to implement a robust distance learning plan and health and safety measures to return students safely to the classroom.
  • Includes a $500 per teacher payment as hazard and overtime pay and to help cover costs incurred due to transitioning to distance learning teaching plans.
  • Delivers $80 million to intermediate school districts to assist schools in coordinating and implementing distance learning plans and safety measures.
  • 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.
  • Limits the use of snow days to encourage the use of remote instruction when in-person instruction is unsafe or unsuitable. Moving forward, schools would be granted just two forgiven days of instruction per year.
  • 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.

The plan will be referred to the House Education Committee for consideration later this week.

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