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Michigan Gov. Whitmer creates Student Recovery Advisory Council -- here’s what it’s for

Council aims to help students get back on track

A classroom.

LANSING, Mich. – With less than a month until the recommended school reopening date of March 1, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has created a Student Recovery Advisory Council, which is aimed to help students get back on track during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In January, with Michigan students learning remotely, Whitmer encouraged all schools to offer an in-person option by March 1.

On Thursday (Feb. 4), she signed Executive Order 2021-02 to create the Student Recovery Advisory Council of Michigan. 

“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit Michigan hard, and our students, families, teachers, and school staff have all felt the strain,” Whitmer said. “Still, our educators have worked tirelessly to teach our children during this pandemic under the most stressful conditions, and for that our state is forever indebted to them for their service.

“It is important to remember that schools also provide other services that students need to succeed, including reliable access to the internet, nutritious meals and mental health supports.”

Here’s are the council’s duties:

  • Develop and submitting recommendations to the governor, state superintendent, and state budget director regarding student recovery.
  • Recommend actions to develop and improve systems for academic support for students who experienced learning loss due to COVID-19.
  • Recommend actions to develop and improve systems for mental and physical health for students impacted by COVID-19.
  • Recommend actions to develop and improve systems to support high school students transitioning into postsecondary education.
  • Recommend actions to develop and improve out-of-school time supports, including, but not limited to, summer school, before and after school programs, and extended school years.
  • Assemble critical voices from the education and public health communities to assist in identifying key challenges students face due to the pandemic.
  • Provide other information or advice or take other actions as requested by the governor.
  • Report regularly to the governor on its activities and make recommendations on an ongoing basis.

Last summer, Whitmer launched the Return to School Advisory Council to develop a framework to inform K-12 districts planning for the 2020-2021 school year. Teachers were also made eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine earlier this year to make a return to in-person learning more feasible.

“It is an honor to serve as the chairperson of the Student Recovery Advisory Council,” Kevin Polston said. “Last summer, this collaborative group of engaged citizens developed the MI Safe School Roadmap, which was vital to supporting in-person learning.  We look forward to ‘fixing the road ahead’ for the state of Michigan through a safe, equitable, and high-performance educational system that provides access and opportunity for each child to reach their full potential.”

The council will be made up of 29 people appointed by the governor, representing parents, students, school leaders, educators, individuals with expertise in public health, pediatrics, mental health experts and community members.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded us how important our education system is to the success of our children,” said Dr. Gwen Reyes, Director of the Pediatric Residency Program at Hurley’s Children’s Hospital in Flint. “As a pediatrician, I provide comprehensive care to my patients and their families, of which school success is an important component. Being part of the Return to School Advisory Council is a perfect example of the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach we must take in order to understand the diverse impact of the pandemic and move forward.”


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