The plan is expected to be signed by Governor Whitmer this week.
On August 15, the Michigan state Senate approved a bipartisan plan that provides flexibility for school districts and for families as many students prepare for the upcoming school year. The Michigan House of Representatives then approved the plan on Monday, August 17. Governor Whitmer is expected to sign it later this week.
The plan, which is a package of three bills, does not mandate in-person classes, leaving the decision to be made by the individual school districts. However, schools that do decide to engage in in-person learning must coordinate with local health officials. There is also no mention of a mask mandate in any of the bills.
Schools must reconfirm their plans on whether to use in-person learning, virtual learning or a combination of both every 30 days. The legislation defines attendance so that students who are physically in class and those who participate virtually are both counted. The plan would waive the requirement to have 180 days or 1,098 hours of school this year.
Districts are also tasked with establishing “education goals” for students by September 15 and provide an “extended COVID-19 learning plan” by October 1.
The requirements for the extended learning plan are to include “educational goals expected to be achieved for the 2020-21 school year, a description of how instruction would be delivered for the 2020-21 school year, and a requirement that a district ensure two two-way interactions occurred between a pupil and his or her teacher during each week of the school year for at least 75% of the pupils enrolled in the district.”
Benchmark assessments of students are also required within nine weeks of the start of school, with a second assessment delivered by the end of the year, in order for districts to receive funding. Teachers are also required to check in with their students regularly or the state may withhold funding. The legislation calls for at least two, two-way interactions per week, according to the plan.
Funding for public schools would be set at similar levels as last year under the plan. According to the bills, 75% of funding would be based on a district’s student count for last school year, with the remaining 25% based on the count this year.
An additional $583 million would be allocated to help schools and educators during the school year. The funding is intended to help districts provide online learning and adequate student assessments. More than $50 million of that funding is intended to be used as hazard pay for teachers.