The following message was sent to MASA members on April 2, 2020, regarding Gov. Whitmer’s Executive Order suspending face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year.

I don’t need to remind you of the history of this whole situation, so let’s focus on where we are right now. Gov. Whitmer today issued her Executive Order, which in short, ends face-to-face instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year.

MASA, MASB, MAISA, and MASSP issued a statement following the announcement stating that while it was a difficult decision, it was the “necessary choice.”

We understand this is going to be difficult for all involved — school staff, teachers, parents, students, and communities alike — but MASA stands ready to support our districts in any way possible. While there is no substitute for in-person instruction for students, we are confident that in the face of these great challenges, Michigan’s students and educators will rise to the occasion.

There have been many rumors, both in the media and in the field, about what this EO would/would not include. Now that it has been released and we know the facts, we will be working with many others to determine what this all means to you as district leaders.The Executive Order issued today not only ends face-to-face instruction for the rest of this school year, it lays out guidance and requirements going forward to ensure that learning will continue for all students. It maintains a lot of flexibility for local districts to determine how they will handle the various challenges they face, whether it be lack of internet availability, lack of devices that can access the internet at home, requirements of Individualized Education Plans, 504s, etc.

We urge you as administrators to think about what local district policies will need to be altered for this year, specifically for graduation. Please know that there will also be some legislative action required that will need to be taken to address some state requirements in the area. The governor has stated that seniors who were on track to graduate when school was suspended on March 13, 2020, should be allowed to graduate.

Top summaries of the Executive Order include:

  • Forgiveness of all snow days allowed under the law (6 total) plus an additional 13 days related to the executive order closing schools.
  • An additional 5 days can be counted as instructional time if the district has been holding professional development sessions with their staff on how to instruct through distance learning.
  • The 75% daily attendance requirement will be waived beginning March 11 for the remainder of the year.
  • Districts will be required to create a continuity of learning plan on how they will deliver instruction and submit it for approval for learning to begin by April 28, 2020. An application template will be available this week. The methods are not defined, except that it can’t be face-to-face.
    • The plan must include a subplan for high school seniors and graduation. There should be a process to certify that the students have completed the requirements of the Michigan Merit Curriculum; however, districts can determine how that credit is awarded. The goal is to have final grades on a transcript for graduating seniors.
    • The district’s plan should aim to support IEPs and 504 plans to the fullest extent possible considering social distancing and the Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives Executive Order.
    • The plan will be submitted to the ISD for approval by the ISD Superintendent.
    • Once approved by the ISD, the plan must be filed with the Michigan Department of Education, which will allow school aid payments to the district to continue as if it were a traditional school year.
  • Districts in a partnership agreement will have their goal attainment dates extended for this school year.
  • The SAT and PSAT will be offered in the fall for those students who missed out on taking it this spring.
  • Districts will be required to continue to offer meals to eligible students and make sure staff is receiving compensation.
  • Districts will be required to provide mental health services and continue to support ISD efforts to mobilize disaster relief childcare centers.
  • Students and families may not be penalized for an inability to participate in the continuity of learning plan.
  • The third-grade reading law will not be enforced for this school year.
  • Assessments will be suspended for this school year.
  • Many laws related to assessment, including A-F, evaluations, etc. will be suspended.
  • The EO includes a provision to ensure that MPSERS service credit will not be impacted.
  • A provision allowing and encouraging districts to donate PPE, cleaning supplies, and other materials to local organizations who need them is included in the EO.
  • The EO allows districts to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without seeking approval from the state.
  • The EO makes it clear that district facilities may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purpose of facilitating distance learning while also practicing social distancing (in compliance with the Stay Home/Stay Safe and CISA list).

Again, we know these are unprecedented times, and we stand ready to provide resources and support to you. We also know this order will continue to raise questions. MASA is continually working to address your issues and provide clarity through conversations with the Governor’s Office and the Michigan Department of Education.

We are about to enter into a new phase of this work. Schools have been physically closed, but our/your leadership will continue to be visionary, vibrant, and service-focused. I am confident that we will get through this next chapter together and that everyone involved will continue to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that what we do is in the best interest of all children.