K-12 education remains top priority
State Representative Gary Howell (R-North Branch) announced Thursday that a bipartisan agreement has been reached regarding school closures caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The Governor, working closely with the Legislature, has issued Executive Order 2020-35, which is an attempt to salvage our children’s education for the current school year. “This plan puts our students on the best feasible track for educational success,” Howell declared.
The executive order closes all public and private schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. School districts will be granted a waiver from requiring students to be physically in their school buildings and allow for home-learning options instead.
“In short order,” Howell said, “all Lapeer County school districts are working on active plans to continue the education of their pupils through at-home instruction and/or distance learning.”
School districts will be required to use funds from days that have been waived to ensure all hourly and contracted employees are fully compensated. “Superintendents, teachers, and local school boards have been doing unbelievable work in trying to keep a semblance of the educational process alive for their students,” Howell stated.
As a final measure, the order will forgive 18 days of lost instruction beyond the six “snow days” allowed under state law. School districts will be allowed to begin the 2020-2021 school year in August. On a very practical level, seniors will graduate and all students will be able to move on to the next grade. Schools will also have the local option to transition to year-round schooling to make up for lost time in the classroom if they so choose.
“This bipartisan agreement, while far from ideal, will ensure that students, teachers, and school workers are taken care of during this period of necessary school closure,” Howell explained. “We are going through an experience collectively that is unprecedented in our lifetimes. However, if we do not continue to make education a top priority, the next generation will pay the cost.”
Rep. Gary Howell’s (R-North Branch) proposed legislation, House Bill 4125, has been unanimously recommended for adoption by the House Committee on Workforce and Trades. The bill passed the Committee with bipartisan support in a 9-0 vote.
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