Michigan distributes K-12 learning plan guide

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

School districts across Michigan on Friday received a 12-page guide to create a local remote learning plan for K-12 students while school buildings are shut down through June.

The template, issued by the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, asks districts to explain in writing the methods they will use to provide alternative modes of instruction other than in-person learning during the K-12 shutdown, which runs through the end of the school year.

Michigan has nearly 850 traditional and charter school districts that educate 1.5 million students.

Joshua Kremer, teacher, and Michael Kjos, student/teacher, prepare their online classes and lessons for their students at West Bloomfield High School in mid-March, as schools moved online only.

Alternative modes of instruction for remote learning, the guide says, may include the use of vendors, telephone communication, email, videos, slideshows, project-based learning and instructional packets. It can include partnerships with other districts, intermediate districts, community colleges or institutions of higher education. 

It may include a hybrid of all of these things, the plan says.

The document asks districts for a summary of materials each student and every parent or guardian will need to access the modes of instruction in the remote learning plan.

"The next few months will bring extraordinary change to teaching and learning in our state. MAISA appreciates the significant role ISDs have in shaping it," William Miller, executive director of the intermediate school association, said Friday. 

Specifically, districts are asked to plan for student learning, develop a weekly plan and schedule, and to contact families.

"Partner to support student learning through ongoing communication and collaboration. This will not look the same for every student and family — safety remains the priority," the plan says.

Districts are also being asked to design learning for "equity and access" by delivering content in multiple ways so all students can access learning.

They must submit a plan to manage and monitor student learning and submit a budget outline estimating additional expenses associated with the remote learning plan and sources of revenue to pay for it.

Districts must submit a disaster plan, outline how they will address students' mental health needs and address several other issues.

Rob Kimball, chairman of the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers, said he applauds Whitmer's decision to protect students and families during the pandemic.

"The first step in this process is working with schools to develop solid learning plans that they can effectively implement over these last couple months of the school year," Kimball said. "In this moment, it’s important that we come together to innovate and put in place effective approaches to distance learning so we can meet our obligation to all of the students and their parents."

Steve Matthews, superintendent of Novi Community Schools and president of the Michigan Association of Superintendents and Administrators, said Friday the ability of each district to deliver a remote education plan will be tested.

"The capacity of each district is different. That is similar to in-school instruction," Matthews said. "I appreciate the focus on keeping students at the center of our focus and attention. It is going to be interesting."