Michigan schools will be closed for the rest of the school year or until coronavirus restrictions are lifted, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on Thursday. Distance learning will take place instead, she said.
“My number one priority right now is protecting Michigan families from the spread of COVID-19,” Whitmer said in a statement. “For the sake of our students, their families and the more than 100,000 teachers and staff in our state, I have made the difficult decision to close our school facilities for the remainder of the school year.”
Whitmer originally closed the schools on March 16. They were set to reopen on April 6.
According to Whitmer’s office, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are working to develop a Continuity of Learning Plan template for schools to use to create their own plans. The template is set to be available by Friday.
Districts will need to show how they plan to give students opportunities to learn remotely and how schools plan to manage and track the progress of students. A regional intermediate school district must approve the plan before it is implemented by the district.
Whitmer’s office also said that if the district requires online learning, it needs to ensure access to an appropriate device and an internet connection. Students and families who cannot participate will not be penalized.
“As a parent, I understand the challenge closing schools creates for parents and guardians across the state, which is why we are setting guidelines for schools to continue remote learning and ensuring parents have resources to continue their children’s education from the safety of their homes,” Whitmer said. “There is no video chat or homework packet that can replace the value of a highly trained, experienced teacher working with students in a classroom, but we must continue to provide equitable educational opportunities for students during this public health crisis.”
As of Thursday afternoon, Michigan has more than 10,700 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, according to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. The death toll for the state is 417.
Read the full executive order here.
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