This ongoing public health crisis has left all of us with questions we’ve never had to face before; but today, our students, teachers and parents are getting some much needed answers.
As Gov. Whitmer said, the health, safety and well-being of our students and educators is the top priority. We know that despite the crisis, education must continue, and we have an obligation to provide our students opportunities to learn during this pandemic. Instead of thinking about strict compliance, the governor encourages us all to focus on other “c” values – communication, common sense, compassion, creativity, and collaboration.
Below you will find information on Gov. Whitmer’s latest order to address the immediate needs of our K-12 students and teachers.
Critical Elements of Gov. Whitmer’s K-12 Education Order
School Closure: School facilities are closed for the remainder of this school year, unless the Governor indicates it is safe to do so and restrictions are lifted.
Days and Hours during Mandated Closure: Forgives 13 days due to state mandated closure, above and beyond “snow days”. Allows another 5 professional development days to count toward instructional time to help educators transition to new modes of instruction delivery.
Attendance: Waives the 75 percent attendance rule since the state emergency was declared.
Facilities: District facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating distance learning while also practicing social distancing (in compliance with Stay Home/Stay Safe and CISA list)
School Calendar: Allows districts 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 approvals.
Continuity of Learning & COVID-19 Response Plan
In order to waive additional day/hour seat requirements, school districts must submit a “COVID-19 Seat Time Waiver Application” that includes the following components:
- Description of how districts will continue to provide instruction, by any type of delivery method.
- Commitment to continue providing food distribution.
- Commitment to paying all school employees.
- Commitment to continue providing mental health services.
- Commitment to support efforts related to disaster relief child care centers.
- If the school district’s plan relies on some online instruction, the district should ensure every student has access to an appropriate device with an ability to connect to the internet.
- Students and families should not be penalized for an inability to fully participate in the plan.
- Districts may partner with each other or with external organizations/vendors in order to implement the plan.
- All content/curriculum decisions are decisions made locally.
Assessment/Reporting: Cancels spring assessments and suspends all statutory requirements that utilizes assessment data (A-F, Read by Grade 3, educator evaluation, Partnership District goals) for one year only. For rising seniors, postpones SAT until the Fall. Allows other high schools students to take PSAT in the fall.
High School Graduation/Michigan Merit Curriculum: Districts must develop a plan/process to give grades to seniors, award credits needed for graduation, certify transcripts, and confer diplomas. Districts encouraged to award credit for prior learning/content mastery and/or utilize project based learning, a portfolio/resume approach, or a culminating activity.
Special Education: Utilizes guidance from the US Department of Education. Supports students and their IEPS to the fullest extent possible, but recognizes that districts will need to provide compensatory services to students with special needs when the emergency is lifted. Encourages MDE to seek additional guidance, flexibility, and waivers from the US Department of Education related to students with IEPs and 504 plans.
Teacher Certification and Continuing Education: Gives Superintendent additional flexibility to issue initial educator certifications and renewals due to barriers caused by COVID-19.
MPSERS: School closures will not affect contributions or accrual of service credits for MPSERS.
Collective Bargaining: This order will be implemented in a way that is consistent with existing collective bargaining agreements.
PPE and Supplies: Permits and encourages districts to donate unused PPE, cleaning supplies and other materials to their local emergency management program.