Schroeder’s plan to limit the number of snow days for school

When COVID-19 shut down Michigan schools this past spring, State Rep. Andrea Schroeder said she was amazed to see the creativity Oakland County teachers and parents used to keep students engaged while sheltered at home.
In Clarkston Community Schools, hundreds of Chromebooks, headphones, and hotspots were distributed to those in need for a “robust ‘at home learning’ program,” Schroeder said.
Learning plans were emailed to the parents of elementary school students.
Schroeder said technology and imagination kept students learning even though they were not physically in the classroom.
“This spirit is reflected in the ‘Return to Learn’ initiative I recently helped introduce in the Michigan Legislature,” Schroeder said. “The flexible strategy would put more emphasis on technology and distance learning – when it’s sensible and appropriate – to help keep students, educators, and their families healthy when classes resume this fall.
“A key component is allowing local communities to make decisions that are best tailored to their unique needs. As we have seen with COVID-19, Oakland County may be affected differently from an emergency health situation than communities up north – the responses should not be identical. Our plan would empower local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that fit their communities.”
The Return to Learn plan, which is awaiting consideration in legislative committees, also empowers school districts to decide their own start dates. Schools would not have to seek a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement. It also provides an $800 per-student payment to K-12 schools to establish a distance learning plan, and to implement health measures to return students safely to the classroom. Intermediate school districts statewide would also receive support to help implement this plan.
The proposal also includes a $500 per-teacher payment as hazard and overtime pay and to help cover costs incurred due to transitioning to distance learning teaching plans, and redefines the word “attendance” to mean “engaged in instruction” rather than “physically present,” allowing schools to be innovative and give students the opportunity to learn outside the classroom.
The use of snow days would also be limited to encourage the use of remote instruction when in-person instruction is unsafe or unsuitable. Moving forward, schools would be granted just two forgiven days of instruction per year.
In addition, the plan would utilize benchmark assessments to provide detailed information to parents and teachers about where a student needs additional help, ensuring kids do not fall behind in the wake of the public health crisis, and would require school districts to work with local health departments to establish safety requirements for extracurricular activities and sports in addition to regular school safety measures.
The $1.3 billion plan would be paid for through federal assistance provided to states for COVID-19 relief.
“I know the educators in our community are professional, talented and dedicated,” Schroeder said. “The Return to Learn plan will provide them with the support and flexibility they need to ensure learning continues both inside and outside the classroom.”

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