Whitmer Makes It Official: In-Person K-12 Learning Done For 2019-20

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued, as expected, an executive order today suspending in-person K-12 education for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year because of the threat posed by the new coronavirus.

As Gongwer News Service reported Wednesday, school districts will have to submit distance learning plans to their intermediate school district for approval.

Executive Order No. 2020-35 is a thick document going over the myriad of moves needed to implement such a massive move.

The order says by Friday, the Department of Education, in collaboration with the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, must distribute a model template to school districts for a distance learning plan. ISDs and charter school authorizing bodies must be prepared to review and approve or reject plans starting April 8.

K-12 districts are to develop their plans, which must be implemented no later than April 28. Plans must be approved for charter schools and K-12 districts to receive their state school aid payment.

Plans may include the adoption of a balanced calendar for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year or plan for one in the 2020-21 school year. That would include starting the 2020-21 school year before Labor Day without needing approval from the Department of Education.

While the end of in-person learning applies to all schools, public and private, the distance learning component is only for public schools. The executive order urges nonpublic schools to take similar actions.

High school seniors will be able to graduate this year.

The order cancels all standardized tests for the remainder of the school year.

“My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19. For the sake of our students, their families, and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year,” Ms. Whitmer said in a statement. “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. 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.”

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