LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad on Saturday voted for a bipartisan plan to help ensure the safety of Michigan students as learning resumes this fall.
“We reached across the aisle and developed a bipartisan strategy for K-12 education,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “Today’s legislation is not perfect, but it provides families, students and teachers with effective, flexible solutions to the unique problems we are facing as our children seek to return to school.”
The Return to Learn plan gives districts flexibility on the total number of mandated instructional days and hours as long as a full school year’s worth of instruction is provided. The bills also require regular two-way interaction between students and teachers, regardless of how they are offering classes. This is intended to ensure students enrolled in distance learning options receive the benefit of personal attention.
Funding according to the plan will be determined using a blend of the 2019-2020 school year pupil count and the 2020-2021 school year pupil count. The blended average will help ensure stability in funding levels.
The impact of COVID-19 varies over time and across geography, Runestad said. Under the Return to Learn plan, school districts must develop health and safety guidelines for all in-person instruction.
The guidelines must be based on local data and developed in consultation with county health departments. The guidelines should help inform staff, parents and the community as to how and why certain instruction models are selected.
The bills require benchmark testing to be conducted in the classroom, online or at home. Test results will be shared with parents, so they understand their child’s learning needs, and they will be used by each school district to establish academic goals.
“As the son of two educators, I know how important it is for all of us to work together to help provide the best education possible for our children,” Runestad said. “This plan helps ensure that everyone has the information they need to make informed decisions that are right for families and the community. It will provide a safer return to education this fall.”