Whitmer suspends in-person K-12 schooling for remainder of the school year

Thursday, April 2, 2020 - 2:11pm

Gov. Whitmer declares all K-12 schools closed for the remained of the school year.

Gov. Whitmer declares all K-12 schools closed for the remained of the school year. Buy this photo
Courtesy of Michigan Executive Office

Following Michigan’s “state of disaster” declaration, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued Executive Order 2020-35 ordering all K-12 school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year. District facilities are open to use by public school employees and contractors if safe social distancing is practiced.

As of Thursday, Michigan has 10,971 recorded COVID-19 cases and 417 deaths. Wayne, Oakland and Macomb Counties currently have the most cases in Michigan.

“Accordingly, to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of this state and its residents, and ensure the ongoing encouragement of education enshrined in this state’s constitution, it is reasonable and necessary to temporarily suspend in-person instruction of K-12 students and provide limited and temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements so that K-12 education may continue by the best alternative means possible,” the executive order reads.

According to the executive order, a Continuity of Learning Plan template is being developed by The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers. School districts can begin utilizing the template on April 3 to draft their localized plans.

Each district’s plan must be approved by their regional intermediate school district before implementation and public school academies must have their Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers approve plans approved, according to a press release from Gov. Whitmer’s office. 

“Every district’s plan will be different and will reflect what’s best and feasible for their community,” the release reads. “A plan can include learning by any number of modes of instruction delivery, including a hybrid approach. However they are designed, districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families.”

Ann Arbor Public Schools initially planned to close through April 6, though this order means the system of schools will remain closed. AAPS has created a webpage to post information as it becomes available.

In the press release, Gov. Whitmer stated she prioritizes protecting Michigan families and reiterated the importance of continuing education through the COVID-19 crisis.

“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.”

Reporter Francesca Duong can be reached at fduong@umich.edu