Michigan governor suspends in-person learning at K-12 schools for rest of school year

High school seniors will have opportunity to graduate this year

Questions about classroom hours in Michigan during coronavirus outbreak

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has officially suspended in-person learning for the rest of the school year at K-12 schools across the state.

MORE: Michigan K-12 schools closed for rest of school year -- what we know

The executive order closes all K-12 school buildings for the remainder of the school year -- unless restrictions are lifted -- and sets guidelines for remote learning.

UPDATE -- April 1, 2020: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 9,334; Death toll at 337

District facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors to operate remote learning while also practicing social distancing, Whitmer said.

All Michigan high school seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate this year so that they may make a successful postsecondary transition, Whitmer said.

All standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled. There will be a date in October for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT, officials said.

School districts will have the flexibility to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval, officials said.

Teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year.

Student teachers will still be able to get a temporary certification and current teachers will still be able to get their certifications renewed, even if they can’t meet all the requirements due to COVID-19, according to state officials.

Click here to visit the state’s coronavirus resource page.

You can view the full executive order below.

“My No. 1 priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19," Whitmer said. "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,. 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.”

Remote learning

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 use in order to create their localized plan.

The application will be made available by April 3. District plans will need to detail how they will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and how schools will manage and monitor their progress.

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It will also provide information on how parents and guardians can learn more about the local plan. Each district must have its plan approved by their regional intermediate school district before being implemented.

Public school academies must have their plans approved by their authorizer. Districts can also partner with one another to create joint plans.

Every district’s plan will be different and will reflect what’s best and feasible for their community. A plan can include learning by any number of modes of instruction delivery, including a hybrid approach. However they are designed, districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families.

Click here for coronavirus information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If the plan relies on some online instruction, the district should ensure every student who needs it has access to an appropriate device with an ability to connect to the internet. Students and families will not be penalized if they are unable to participate in their alternate learning plan.

Schools should continue to provide mental health care services for students, to the extent possible, and should be ready and willing to help efforts to establish disaster relief childcare centers. School districts will also continue to provide meals for families who need them during the COVID-19 crisis. If any schools have unused personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies or other materials, they are allowed and encouraged to donate them to organizations that could put them to use.

Statement from Detroit schools

Here is a statement from Detroit Public Schools Community District Assistant Superintendent Chrystal Wilson:

I want to begin by thanking Gov. Whitmer for her steady and courageous leadership during these unprecedented times. We knew she cared about public education when she took office but her priorities, and most importantly, her decisions after taking office reflect that commitment. She listens to leaders, considers different viewpoints, and then acts decisively. This is the type of leadership we need in these difficult times. I was one of the first leaders to call for the closure of schools this year, not because I do not want to see our children in school learning, but because I knew this was the best decision to ensure the health and safety of our children, employees, and the greater community as we continue to fight a virus that is ripping through our district, schools, and city communities. I also advocated for an early decision regarding the closure of schools so we could shift our organization, employees, and resources to engage our students virtually and through printed academic packets. Our district staff has been working hard since school was closed to develop a new learning framework that will offer learning opportunities for PreK-12 students in literacy, mathematics, science and social studies. This will include lessons for physical education and art as well. Learning will build from the curriculum our students are currently using with linked videos introducing learning concepts and assignments. All of our school level staff will have specific roles and responsibilities to engage students and families during the closure through phone calls and the virtual platform of “Teams.” Our new learning platform will be released April 14. We will focus on students’ learning and their social emotional needs during these difficult times as well. All of the assignments will be printed as well to address the city’s digital divide. We are actively working with the business community to implement a strategy to provide all DPSCD families with a tablet and internet access. Our goal is to execute this commitment by early/late May. All assignments will be enrichment based. Although feedback will be given to assignments, they will not be graded, and grades will not be issued. Lastly, we are in the process of developing the details regarding senior graduation and grade level promotion. Our intent will not be to use this crisis as justification to prevent students from graduating or being promoted to the next grade level. We are disappointed that the Legislature did not commit to maintain the same rate of funding through this fiscal year, but this is to be assumed by the Governor’s announcement today. We will work to ensure that our employees continue to receive their full pay and expected income as long as they participate in this learning and engagement shift with our students and families.”

Statement from Michigan superintendent

Here is a statement from state Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice:

In this public health crisis, the governor continues to put public health first. I appreciate her efforts to address public health and public education needs at this extraordinarily difficult time.

“Michigan educators are creative, intelligent, and hard-working. Given the very different circumstances within and across districts in Michigan, they will do their best to provide for the needs of children during this pandemic.”

About the Author:

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.