GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has ordered all K-12 school buildings to close, ending face-to-face learning for the remainder of the school year amid the coronavirus outbreak.
“I know this is hard and I know this raises a lot of questions from parents and students,” Whitmer said during Thursday’s news briefing. “This is the best thing that we can do for the health of our children, for the tens of thousands of educators who work in our schools.”
Under the executive order issued Thursday, teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year.
High school seniors will be able to graduate and other students will move up a grade, as long as they were on track to do so.
DISTRICTS TO CREATE LOCALIZED LEARNING PLANS
Each district will create a localized plan which best fits their community. Districts will have to give information about their specialized plans to parents and guardians. Those plans must be approved by their regional intermediate school district before they can be implemented.
“Plans will be different based on the district. They will be locally different, that means learning by phone, or mail or online,” Whitmer said.
If the plan relies on online instruction, the governor said districts should make sure students have the appropriate devices and access to the internet.
Students and families who are unable to participate in the new learning plan will not be penalized.
The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are creating a Continuity of Learning Plan template application for districts to use when creating their plans. The application will be available by April 3.
The executive order gives districts the ability to create a balanced calendar for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year without additional approval. When it comes to the 2020-2021 school year, districts will able to begin before Labor Day without having to get additional approval as well.
SCHOOLS STILL ABLE TO PROVIDE SERVICES
While schools are closed, districts will still continue to run grab-and-go meal sites.
Whitmer said schools should continue to provide mental health care services for student as best they can during this time. She added districts should be ready to create disaster relief childcare centers.
Student teachers will be able to get temporary certification and current teachers will be able to get their certifications renewed, even if they don’t meet all the requirements due to the ongoing pandemic.
All of this year’s standardized tests, including M-STEP and SAT, have been canceled. In October, there will be a date for the class of 2021 seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT.
Several other states, including but not limited to Alabama, Georgia, Vermont and Virginia, have canceled classes for the rest of the academic year. Others have shut down schools into May.