As a result of COVID-19 and the closing of school buildings for the 2019-2020 School Year, school districts must submit a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan (“Plan”) in order to continue to receive state aid for operations. Although schools are closed and not providing in-person instruction, teaching and learning must continue. Michigan educators have been called to provide our students with continued learning.
There are varied states of readiness to provide continuity in learning among districts. Even within districts of multiple school sites, there are varied states of readiness. It is expected that schools will provide instruction at a distance using a variety of methods that meet local needs, including printed materials, phone contact, email, virtual learning, or a combination to meet student needs. We should avoid assuming that continuity in learning can only occur through online means.
While many educators have been providing distance learning opportunities, the Governor’s Executive Order (EO 2020-35) requires all schools to begin providing learning opportunities for all students no later than April 28, 2020.
Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-142 “provides a structure to support all schools in Michigan as they plan for a return of pre-K-12 education in the fall. Under the order, school districts must adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they will cope with the disease across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. In turn, the accompanying Michigan Return to School Roadmap offers a guide to the types of safety protocols appropriate during each phase. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution: What works in Lansing may not work in Sault Sainte Marie. Districts will retain the flexibility to tailor their instruction to their particular needs and to the disease conditions present in their regions.” (EO-2020-142)
Each district (public, public school academy (PSA), nonpublic, and intermediate school district (ISD) that educates pre-K-12 students) shall submit a single completed Assurance Document and Preparedness Plan to its Board in time for approval by August 15 or seven days before the first day of school, whichever comes first. This template, when completed, serves as a single Assurance Document and Preparedness Plan.
The Preparedness Plan will be collected by the Intermediate School District for public school districts, the authorizing body for public school academies, or the chief/designated school administrator for nonpublic schools for transmission to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and State Treasurer by August 17, 2020.
On August 20, 2020, Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law House Bill 5913 (Public Act 149 of 2020). Public Act 149 created Section 98a of the state School Aid Act (MCL 388.1698a) that states: “In order to receive state aid under this article for 2020-2021, a district must provide, for the 2020-2021 school year, instruction under an extended COVID-19 learning plan that has been approved by an intermediate district or authorizing body….” A district that operates as a cyber school, as defined in section 551 of the Revised School Code (MCL 380.551), is not required to submit an extended COVID-19 learning plan.
On September 30, 2020, the governor signed into law the education omnibus budget bill (Senate Bill 927). The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) requests that districts complete the extended COVID-19 learning plan as outlined in this memorandum and in accordance with section 98a of the state School Aid Act. This memorandum includes new dates and submission requirements outlined in section 98a.
Extended COVID-19 learning plans were collected by the intermediate school districts (ISDs) for traditional public school districts and by the authorizing bodies for public school academies (PSAs) by October 1, 2020. In addition, PSAs that have agreements to provide education to a district that does not directly educate its residents were to submit their extended COVID-19 learning plan to the ISD within which they are located by October 1, 2020.
This plan was presented to the Board of Education on Monday, August 3 and approved at the August 10 meeting, along with the Superintendent's recommendation to begin the school year in our temporary distance learning contingency.