Courtesy of FJA Facebook

The executive order outlines guidelines for remote learning, ensures seniors can still graduate and teachers will be paid for the remainder of the year. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order on Thursday, April 2 ordering all K-12 school buildings in the state to close for the remainder of the school year. Students will finish out the year through a remote learning plan unless restrictions become lifted.  

Although the schools are closed, school employees and contractors may use the district’s facilities for the purpose of facilitating remote learning while practicing social distancing. 

“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,” Whitmer said in a press release.  

Whitmer announced that the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are developing a Continuity of Learning Plan template application for schools to create their own district plan. The application will be available Friday, April 3.  

Each district is tasked with coming up with an individualized plan. District plans must detail how they will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and how schools will manage and monitor their progress.  

A plan can include learning by any number of modes of instruction delivery, including a hybrid approach. However, districts must ensure their plans are accessible for students and families. 

If the district’s plan relies on online instruction, they must ensure that every student has access to an appropriate device and internet access. 

Before the plan is implemented, the districts must have them approved by their regional intermediate school district. Districts may also work together to form a joint plan. 

School districts will also have the flexibility to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day. Teachers and school employees will also be paid for the remainder of the school year. 

According to the press release, all Michigan high school seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate this year. Schools must award credits and grades for courses taken based on all coursework completed through March 11, with an optional final exam or other cumulative project, according to language in the executive order.  

All standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled and will have make-up dates in October. 

“There is no video chat or homework packet that can replace the value of a highly trained, experienced teacher working with students in a classroom, but we must continue to provide equitable educational opportunities for students during this public health crisis,” Whitmer said in a press release. 

Jewish Schools’ Response 

Hillel Day School will resume its remote learning plan after Passover break on April 20. Throughout the break, Hillel will have optional recommendations for student’s pure recreation. 

Hillel recently released a statement on the subject that reads, “Our remote learning program is an iterative one; we will continue to enhance, adapt, learn, and grow in the ways that best serve our students during these most extraordinary times. Our faculty and staff deserve high praise for leaping into this uncharted territory in swift fashion. All recognize that we have a job to do — to continue to educate our students, albeit in an altered environment.” 

Frankel Jewish Academy is also continuing with their online learning program. The building will remain closed until the last day of school on June 12. 

“We will continue to support our seniors as they prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, and provide all other grades with the instruction and guidance necessary for a smooth transition to normalcy next year,” Rabbi Azaryah Cohen, Head of School, said in a statement. “Our students and teachers have transitioned to online learning seamlessly and reviews have been stellar. This success is a testament to our values of collaboration, kindness, and compassion, and an affirmation of our belief that every obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow.” 

Farber Hebrew Day School will continue with their virtual learning till the end of the year. Rabbi Scot Berman, Head of School, told the Jewish News that there may be small tweaks here and there to student’s scheduling to ensure that their learning is more efficient and impactful. 

Cranbrook Schools are also continuing online instruction for the remainder of the year.