MICHIGAN – Representative Jason Wentworth, of Farwell, announced yesterday his support for a sensible and flexible plan helping to keep Michigan students safe as learning resumes in the fall.

The House-Senate plan, announced this morning during a Capitol press conference, requires local school districts and health departments to work together to develop health and safety standards that are best for their unique area.

“The question of how Michigan schools will reopen in the fall is front of mind for parents, teachers and students,” Wentworth said. “As we’ve learned from this public health crisis, the impact of COVID-19 varies among communities across the state. There isn’t one right answer to how or when schools should return. That’s why we are empowering school districts to work with their local health departments to develop safety standards and practices that make sense for their respective communities.

“As a father, I have seen firsthand the passion and flexibility our educators have demonstrated when COVID-19 forced them to completely revamp the way they teach. Every student has unique needs, and the amount of care and attention to detail their teachers are putting in to ensure learning is still taking place – even remotely – is amazing to see. By allowing our local schools to develop flexible learning plans for the upcoming school year, I know we can simultaneously maximize student learning while keeping our children safe.”

Under the plan, school districts could start whenever is best for them without obtaining a waiver to bypass Michigan’s Labor Day start requirement. Wentworth said this will provide schools the necessary flexibility to begin classroom instruction as safely as possible.

The Return to Learn plan also:

- Provides an $800 per pupil payment to K-12 schools to implement a robust distance learning plan and health and safety measures to return students safely to the classroom.

- 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.

- Delivers $80 million to intermediate school districts to assist schools in coordinating and implementing distance learning plans and safety measures.

- 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.

- Encourages 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.

- Utilizes 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.

- Requires school districts to work with local health departments to establish safety requirements for extracurricular activities and sports in addition to regular school safety measures.

In a press release from Senator Jim Stamas on Tuesday, June 23, he states his support for the Return to Learn plan. 

“To protect children from COVID-19, teachers and students across Michigan transitioned from going to school to learning from home, and I commend them for their resilience and hard work,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Before our students return to school, we must do everything we can to provide them as safe a learning environment as possible. I strongly support the bicameral plan to invest federal CARES Act funds to help all Michigan students continue to learn safely by ensuring our schools have the necessary resources to improve health standards in the classroom and enhance remote learning options.”

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