LANSING, Mich. — Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter MacGregor voted on Saturday to approve a bipartisan Return to Learn plan that will help ensure the safety of Michigan students as school resumes in a few weeks.
“COVID-19 has presented some serious challenges to educating our children,” said MacGregor, R-Rockford. “But those challenges are not insurmountable. By coming together to empower local school district leaders to work with local health professionals to make the best health and safety decisions for their districts, we can ensure our students receive a safe, quality education, whether it’s in the classroom, online, or some version of both.”
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. The guidelines should help inform staff, parents and the community as to how and why certain instruction models are selected.
The 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.
The legislation would determine funding 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.
“I appreciate all the hard work that went in to crafting this educational plan that was approved with bipartisan support,” MacGregor said.
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.