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MASA COVID-19 Update – April 10, 2020
Yesterday, Gov. Whitmer extended the Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives Order through April 30, 2020. This mirrors what the Michigan Legislature passed on Wednesday. We understand that the difficult decisions we make now will allow us all to look forward to a more “normal” school year this fall. Thank you again for all of the hard work you continue to do for kids and their families during this time.
Look for updates from MASA on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Please continue to feel free to share the information in this update with anyone in your organization or network who could use it. Further, if there is information or resources you think should be included in an upcoming update or on the MASA COVID-19 resource center, please send them to Haley Jones for consideration.
In this update:
Executive Order 2020-35 FAQ 
Thank you to those who submitted questions regarding the governor’s Executive Order 2020-35, which closed school buildings for the remainder of the school year. MASA staff have compiled all of the questions and answers into an FAQ, which is now available on the MASA website.
These are the most complete answers we have at this time, they should in no way be taken as legal advice or binding. For specific advice, please consult your legal counsel.
MASA/Thrun Legal Webinar Resources
Thank you to those who attended the legal webinar MASA held with Thrun Law Firm on Thursday. A recording of the webinar is now available on MASA’s COVID-19 Resource Page. They are also available below.
Please contact your legal counsel with any outstanding questions you may have.
Gov. Whitmer Extends Stay Home, Stay Safe Order, Creates Task Force on Racial Disparities
Gov. Whitmer on Thursday signed an Executive Order extending the Stay Home, Stay Safe order until April 30, 2020.
As with the prior order, this EO limits gatherings and travel and requires all workers who are not necessary to sustain or protect life to stay home. The order also imposes more stringent limitations on stores to reduce foot traffic, slow the spread of the coronavirus, and save lives.
“Michigan has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country, and we’re still on the upswing. We must continue to do everything we can to slow the spread and protect our families,” said Governor Whitmer. “Data shows that most Michiganders are doing their part by staying home and staying safe. That’s good, but we must keep it up. When we do, we can save lives and shorten the amount of time we’re working through this crisis, which will be good for our families and good for our economy in the long-run. We can also protect critical infrastructure workers like doctors, nurses, grocery store employees, and child care workers. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that people stay home and stay safe.”
The executive directors of MASA, MASB, and MASSP released the following statement:
“While we understand that the extension of the Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives order will undoubtedly create hardships for many Michiganders, we agree that the health and safety of residents should remain paramount. Doing everything we can now, based on best practices and scientific and medical advice, to slow or stop the spread of COVID-19 will allow our students, staff, and administrators to look forward to a new school year in the fall with face-to-face instruction and extracurricular activities.” Read the full statement.
Also on Thursday, Gov. Whitmer announced that she has created the Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities.
The task force, chaired by Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II, will consist of leaders across state government and health care professionals from communities most impacted by the spread of coronavirus. The task force will hold its first meeting this week.
As of Thursday, over 40% of COVID-19 deaths in Michigan are African Americans, but only 14% of Michiganders are African Americans. The Michigan Coronavirus Task Force on Racial Disparities will provide the governor with recommendations on how to address this disparity as we work to slow the spread of COVID-19 in our state.
Michigan is First State to Provide Food to Families Affected by School Closings Caused by COVID-19
Michigan has become the first state in the country to gain federal approval of a program that will provide nutritious food to children who were affected by school closings due to COVID-19.
The Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program (P-EBT) provides temporary funding to address emergency food needs and avert financial hardship for families affected by the pandemic.
The food assistance benefits will go to Michigan families with students ages 5-18 who are enrolled in the Michigan Department of Education program for students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals and will reach approximately 895,000 students. This includes families currently receiving Food Assistance Program benefits as well as those not currently enrolled in the program.
These additional benefits will fortify and supplement the important efforts that local school districts will continue to put forth, providing nutritious school meals to children at over 2,000 stationary locations and nearly 700 mobile sites throughout Michigan.
“I am proud that Michigan is the first state to receive federal approval for this program to put healthy food on the table for families that need them,” said Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. “The spread of COVID-19 has had a profound impact on our state. My administration will continue to work around the clock to help Michiganders through this difficult time and slow the spread of this virus.”
Census 2020 – Be Counted Michigan!
Census-Image-217px_1026846.pngEven now as our state faces challenges related to the continuing coronavirus pandemic, it is more important than ever that all of Michigan’s residents are counted in the 2020 census.  Federal funding coming to the state is often based on results of the decennial census – a complete count will assure that Michigan and its local communities receive a fair share of federal funds for essential services now and in the future.
As you communicate with your district’s students and families in the coming weeks and months, please consider including a reminder to families to complete the 2020 census as part of your message. This easily shareable one-page flyer (also available in multiple languages) from the US Census Bureau provides a simple message to parents about the 2020 Census and its Statistics in Schools program.
Latest MDE Resources
Throughout the week, MDE has shared many separate resources, and MASA wants to make sure that you have access to them in one spot. These resources represent countless hours of work by a significant amount of organizations and individuals and it is hoped that they will be valuable resources that will help you navigate the work with which you are faced
Food Service Town Hall
On Wednesday, MDE held three separate Town Hall webinars to share information and answer questions regarding food service during school closures. Materials from the Town Halls are now available online.
COVID-19 Response Grants
COVID-19 Response Grants provide a flexible funding pathway for Michigan high schools, Local College Access Networks, community-based nonprofit organizations, and higher education institutions to support emergent postsecondary projects and programs in their communities.

Funding is offered through two pathways:

  • Up to $2,500 in mini-grants targeted towards high schools
  • Up to $10,000 targeted toward a community response.
MCAN has waived the match funding requirement for this grant opportunity and committed to an expedited review process to support applicant needs.
Learning at a Distance Resources
MDE released a document – Learning at a Distance Resources – written largely by Michigan teachers, that includes resources for distance learning.
The document was created to address the immediate needs of school staff who must address the immediate needs of children during this pandemic. This document seeks to help ALL districts improve learning at a distance.
Best Practices for School Food Service Providing Meals During COVID-19 Outbreak
MDE on Tuesday released a joint Best Practices document with the Michigan Department of Agriculture about school food service providing meals during the COVID-19 outbreak. The document is intended to help school nutrition and meal transportation personnel make informed decisions about the virus to minimize the risk of exposure to staff and their families, as well as the children and families receiving meals.
Educating All Learners Alliance
As school buildings across the state remain closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the core questions educators and school leaders are addressing is how to ensure learning continues for all students, including students with disabilities. The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) has joined nearly 30 education advocacy and disability rights organizations to form the Educating All Learners Alliance, dedicated to ensuring equity for all learners and the continuity of special education services during remote instruction.
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions on Section 31a and Section 41 Funds During the COVID-19 Pandemic
During the time of emergency school closure due to the COVID-19 crisis, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) is providing guidance to assist local education agencies (LEAs) with the implementation of state budget categorical Section 31a and Section 41 programs. Read the FAQ.
Guidance for Compliance with IDEA and the MARSE During the COVID-19 Pandemic
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) Office of Special Education (OSE) is releasing Guidance for Compliance With the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the Michigan Administrative Rules for Special Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic. This guidance document is designed to assist districts in meeting the IDEA Part B and MARSE requirements in support of Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-35. The MDE has worked to ensure this guidance is aligned and consistent with information provided by the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt special education both in Michigan and across the country, and therefore this guidance will be regularly updated as new and more information becomes available. Districts will be notified of updates.
Public Comment Period on Approved Waivers for Title Funds During the 2020 COVID-19 Crisis
MDE requested and has been granted waivers, pursuant to section 3511 of Division A of the federal CARES Act on behalf of local school districts regarding the use of federal Title funds. Please see the waiver request here: ESEA Waiver for Title Funds.
2019-2020 FIRST (VEX) Robotics Grant Requirement Waiver
MDE on Wednesday announced it is waiving one of the grant requirements associated with the 2019-20 FIRST (VEX) Robotics Grant due to the release of Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order that led to the suspension of the current FIRST Robotics seasons, the cancellation of the 2020 world championship events, and the suspension of Robotics Education Competition (REC) Foundation events.
See the new requirements by reading the press release linked below.
USDA Announces Second Application Window for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program Funding
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand this week announced that USDA is opening a second application window for funding under the Distance Learning and Telemedicine(DLT) grant program.
“Due to the COVID-19 National Emergency, USDA is providing an additional window for those who cannot complete applications prior to the first application deadline,” Brand said. “This action will provide more time for applicants to complete their funding requests. Access to distance learning and telemedicine makes it easier for thousands of rural residents to take advantage of health care and educational opportunities without having to travel long distances or be among large groups of people.”
Electronic applications for window two may be submitted through grants.gov beginning April 14, 2020, and are due no later than July 13, 2020. Paper applications will not be accepted under the second window. Additional information on how to apply will be available on grants.gov on April 14.
Waivers of Professional Learning, Professional Learning Hours for Certificate Renewal, School Counselors
On Thursday, MDE announced waivers of required district professional learning and professional learning hours required for certificate renewal for educators and professional learning for school counselors in response to Executive Order 2020-35.
For educators:
  1. The requirement for any teacher within his or her third year of employment to receive at least 15 days of professional development within the teacher’s first three years of employment if the requirement could not be completed due to COVID-19 or accompanying response efforts has been waived.
  2. The requirement for a district to provide five days of teacher professional development for the 2019-2020 school year has been waived.
Acknowledging Section VII of EO 2020-35 waives strict compliance with rules and procedures to allow for response efforts prompted by the COVID-19 state of emergency and/or state of disaster, the following amendments to Administrative Rules are enacted:
  1. The total number of hours required for renewal for educator credentials expiring June 30, 2020 is reduced from 150 to 120 hours. This ensures that educators who were unable to participate in scheduled district provided professional learning due to the COVID-19 emergency may still renew or progress toward certificates and licenses.
For School Counselors:
Individuals who hold a School Counselor License (SCL) or teaching certificate with a School Counselor (NT) endorsement expiring June 30, 2020 may renew their credential regardless of whether they have completed at least 25 hours of professional development covering counseling about the college preparation and selection process and at least 25 hours of professional development covering career counseling. This reduces the total number of hours required to renew or progress toward school counselor credentials expiring June 30, 2020 renewal to 100 instead of 150.
Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Order Removing Barriers to Remote Transactions and Estate Planning
On Wednesday, Gov. Whitmer signed an Executive Order that allows for electronic signatures, remote notarizations, remote witness attestations and acknowledgments, and remote visitations through May 6, 2020 at 11:59 p.m.
“It is important that Michiganders take every precaution to avoid person to person contact,” said Gov. Whitmer. “Encouraging the use of e-signatures and alternative means of notarization will protect more people and help us slow the spread of COVID-19 in Michigan. I will continue to work around the clock to ensure we protect the most people we can from this virus.”
This is important for educators who will now be allowed to use electronic signatures on documents for IEPs, work permits, and more.
Executive Order 2020-41 will help ensure that necessary transactions and interactions may continue to occur during this time of crisis without putting Michiganders’ health and the health of their families at risk.

Unless the law specifically mandates a physical signature, Executive Order 2020-41 temporarily suspends the rules and procedures under the Uniform Electronic Act and permits the use of an electronic signature for a transaction whenever a signature is required under Michigan law. Additionally, the order specifics that any notarial act that is required under Michigan law may be performed utilizing two-way real-time audiovisual technology, provided that certain conditions within the order are met.

Resource Center
Learning happens outside of the classroom, too! Take a look at the resources below that will keep students and parents engaged when the homework is done.
MDE Learning at a Distance Guidance
MDE released a document, written largely by Michigan teachers, that includes resources for distance learning.
the document was created to address the immediate needs of school staff who must address the immediate needs of children during this pandemic. This document seeks to help ALL districts improve learning at a distance.
Macmillian Online Resources
Macmillan Publishers has made literacy resources available online for students of all ages.
Story activity kits for students, parents, and educators are available in their resource library.
Saginaw ISD Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds
Learn all about fruits as the Sagnisaw ISD Healthy Bodies Healthy Minds team highlights the benefits of fruit nutrients and provides delicious fruit recipes in this blog post with educational material and physical activity ideas involving fruits and veggies!
#SchoolsGetItDone
A look at the hard work happening in school districts across the state. Use the hashtag #SchoolsGetItDone on Facebook and Twitter and share what your district is doing to support students.
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