MI house to take up school compromise following senate approval

The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.
The Michigan Capitol building in Lansing.((source: WJRT))
Published: Aug. 15, 2020 at 10:43 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WJRT) (08/15/2020)-The Michigan Senate voted overwhelmingly to green light plans to put Michigan’s students back to work Saturday. It follows a stunning, rare bipartisan show of unity in Michigan’s Capital late Friday – as Governor Gretchen Whitmer and republican congressional leaders hatched an endth-hour agreement.

· The bills enable individual districts to decide whether learning will continue in person or online.

· Districts opting in to the in person option would be required to coordinate with local health departments and keep tabs on potential COVID concerns.

· The legislation also prioritizes classroom learning for students K-5 – and sets funding levels according to 2019′s attendance numbers to ensure a level playing field.

The agreement in Lansing comes as debate over the school question reaches a fever-pitch nationwide with coronavirus still running rampant. The debate, replete with conflicting ideas regarding how to get kids back in the classroom in virtually all 50 states, from the nation’s largest teachers union, the Department of Education and throughout Michigan’s more than 800 schools.

Close to home, Flint Community Schools is already partially back in session with online learning underway as of August 5 and a return to face to face learning slated for September 14. Superintendent Anita Steward said this in a recent interview:

 “We know that a teacher standing in front of a student is the best, the best instructional situation.”

On the flip side, Grand Blanc Schools recently pushed its start date back to September 8, when the board announced it would keep learning virtual for now. Its superintendent, urging parents to pack their patience as they wade through the same fluid situation.

 “Walk with us, stand with us, help us with this,” pleaded Superintendent Clarence Garner. “The anger and the dissension is certainly, that’s not going to help us grow or get through this.”

The legislation requires schools to review their plans monthly based on what they’re seeing, to give parents a voice and make changes when needed.

Tight-lipped, however, when it comes to that controversial mask question. The agreement on the table in Lansing stops short of requiring one be worn. Governor Gretchen Whitmer Friday encouraged adults to model responsible behavior and have one on nonetheless, pointing out kids in other countries may be required to wear one.

 “Kids of all ages are adapting,”

The Michigan house is set to take up the bills Monday, paving the way for Whitmer’s signature.

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