What Whitmer’s Education Order Means for ELPS Families: TBD

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Above: East Lansing School Board President Erin Graham and Dori Leyko at the Sept. 9, 2019, meeting of the Board (photo by Raymond Holt)

Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued a new Executive Order yesterday requiring schools across Michigan to keep their doors closed to classes until the next school year and to develop plans for remote learning for the remainder of the academic year.

“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,” said Whitmer.

She considered her own role as a parent to children who attend East Lansing High School, stating, “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.”

Each district must develop its own plan. So, what does this mean for ELPS? That is yet to be determined.

Dori Leyko, the Superintendent of ELPS, sent a letter to parents and guardians this morning stating the district has until April 28 to implement “a continuous learning plan” for remote instruction, adding that “we will thoughtfully and intentionally develop this plan before we roll it out.”

In the meantime, ELPS will continue what has been the COVID-19 status quo – no organized education.

Leyko reminded parents, “optional resources are available if you choose to utilize them, and we continue to encourage our teachers, staff and administrators to reach out and check in with students.”

Parents should expect to receive a survey “regarding technology access and online learning in the coming days,” but Leyko stated that instruction will not be limited to online teaching. She did not elaborate.

According to Whitmer’s statement, applications for providing plans will become available today.

In the application, ELPS must explain how students will learn from home – using internet-based lessons, though the distribution of paper books and packets, or a hybrid approach. If schools want to use online methods, they need to ensure that students have internet connectivity. Those with connectivity issues cannot be penalized for work they were unable to complete.

Districts must also state in their plans how teachers will manage the progress of students. All plans must be approved by the intermediate school district.

It is also up to each district to decide whether remote learning will “count” toward promotion. Schools are encouraged to promote students who were on track to move to the next grade before school closures began in March. Seniors will graduate to prevent problems pursuing their post-secondary education.

Whitmer also spoke to the need for schools to continue mental health care services, meals for families, and special education programs. Unused PPE and cleaning supplies in schools should be donated to local hospitals if possible.

Whitmer left open the possibility of lifting the restriction before the end of the school year. Employees may also use district facilities “for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distancing.”

Our sister nonprofit news organization, The Bridge, has more about what all this means for Michigan school kids and their parents. Read their report here.

ELi has a special section dedicated to our reporting on COVID-19 for East Lansing. See it here and sign up for ELi’s mailer to stay informed

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