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MASA COVID-19 Update – May 1, 2020
And just like that – it’s May. It’s hard to believe how much has changed in two months, and that summer is almost here. This time has gone by so fast, and yet so slow at the same time.
Today’s update includes many updates from the governor’s office and MDE, including the re-opening of construction, federal funding for schools, and the expansion of provisions for K-12 learning and early childhood programs. We are also sharing a registration link for a webinar we will host next Wednesday about high school commencement.
Thank you for all of the work you continue to do during a stressful and ever-changing time. We hope you continue to find these updates helpful and informational.
As always, please continue to feel free to share the information in this update with anyone in your organization or network who might find it helpful. 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:
Michigan Receives Approval for Nearly $390 Million in Federal Education Funding
Michigan has been approved by the U.S. Department of Education (USED) for nearly $390 million in federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, the Michigan Department of Education announced.
The $13.2 billion ESSER fund provides emergency relief funds to address the impact that the COVID-19 public health crisis has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools across the United States. ESSER funding was included as part of the $2 trillion federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
“These are vitally important resources to help our schools reduce the strain caused by this global pandemic,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Schools can use the funds to meet a variety of current education needs, but must recognize that these funds are one-time revenues.”
The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) will award 90 percent of the $389,796,984 in emergency relief funds to eligible local school districts based on the 2019-20 Title I, Part A funding formula, as required by the CARES Act.
For a look at by-district funding, check out this spreadsheet.
Gov. Whitmer Signs Executive Order Expanding Provisions for K-12 Learning and Early Childhood Programs for Remainder of School Year

On Thursday, Gov. Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-65 to extend and clarify Executive Order 2020-35, which ordered all K-12 school buildings to close for instructional purposes to students for the remainder of the school year, and provided continuity of learning infrastructure by setting guidelines for remote learning. In addition to continuing the actions taken in the previous executive order, Executive Order 2020-65 also suspends in-person instruction of both the Great Start Readiness Program and early childhood programs for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. GSRP is Michigan’s state-funded preschool program.

Under the re-issued EO, school districts that run Great Start Readiness Programs (GSRP) must also detail a plan on how the GSRP teaching team will engage with enrolled children and families as well as provide children and their families plans for the transition from GSRP to kindergarten. This outreach must include a virtual conference with the family. Schools must begin implementation of GSRP plans by May 7, 2020. 
Executive Order 2020-65 suspends certain requirements for teacher evaluations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally the order clarifies that some teachers with individualized development plans will need to be provided an annual year-end performance evaluation, but that administrators must only use data available prior to the school closures, in recognition of some limitations posed by COVID-19. The order also temporarily suspends certain requirements that districts will not be able to fulfill due to the closure of school buildings for instructional purposes, like mandatory fire, lockdown, and tornado drills. It also waives compulsory attendance requirements and truancy enforcement measures for the remainder of 2019-2020 school year.
Like her previous order, all districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families. Although each district’s plan will be different and represent what is best for their students, the Continued Learning Plan (CoL) outlined in the order requires schools to:
  • Include a description of the methods used to provide alternative modes of instruction as well as a summary of materials, a description of methods to keep students at the center of education activities, a plan to deliver content in multiple ways to ensure access for all students, and a plan to manage and monitor learning.
  • Include a budget outline estimating additional expenditures associated with the CoL Plan and sources of revenue to pay for those expenditures.
  • Provide a description of methods the district will use to notify pupils and parents or guardians of the CoL Plan.
  • Provide or arrange for continuation of food distribution to eligible pupils.
  • Continue to pay school employees while redeploying staff to provide meaningful work in the context of the CoL Plan, subject to any applicable requirements of a collective bargaining agreement.
  • Provide for evaluation of participation in the CoL Plan by pupils.
  • Provide mental health supports to pupils affected by a state of emergency or state of disaster prompted by COVID-19.
  • Include a plan for early childhood services, including Great Start Readiness Program, compliant with guidance issued by the Department.
Additionally, each district must have its plan approved by their regional intermediate school district before being implemented. Public school academies must have their plans approved by their authorizer. Districts can also partner with one another to create joint plans.
School districts will have the flexibility to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-2020 school year and/or to begin the 2020-2021 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval. Teachers and school employees will be paid for the remainder of the school year. Student teachers will still be able to get a temporary certification and current teachers will still be able to get their certifications renewed, even if they can’t meet all the requirements due to COVID-19.
All Michigan high school seniors will be given the opportunity to graduate this year so that they may make a successful postsecondary transition. Additionally, all standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled. There will be a date in October for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT.
Governor Whitmer Signs Executive Order to Re-Open Construction & Real Estate Safely 
As expected, today Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed Executive Order 2020-70 as part of her MI Safe Start plan. The executive order will allow the May 7 resumption of some types of work that present a very low risk of infection, including construction, real-estate activities, and work that is traditionally and primarily performed outdoors.
This is great news for MASA members who have been asking for this change so that construction and bond projects planned for the summer may move forward.
Under the order, construction sites must adopt a set of best practices to protect their workers from infection. Those practices include
  • Designating a site supervisor to enforce COVID-19 control strategies.
  • Conducting daily health screenings for workers.
  • Creating dedicated entry points, if possible, or issuing stickers or other indicators to assure that all workers are screened every day.
  • Identifying choke points and high-risk areas (like hallways, hoists and elevators, break areas, water stations, and buses) and controlling them to enable social distancing.
  • Ensuring sufficient hand-washing or hand-sanitizing stations at the worksite.
High School Commencement Webinar: “Here’s What/So What/Now What”
As the end of the school year approaches, many school districts are wondering how best to celebrate and recognize their graduating seniors. To support building and district leaders in considering their options for commencement and other end-of-year celebrations, MASA and MASSP are hosting a joint webinar at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, May 6. This FREE event is ideal for superintendents and central office and high school administrators. Teams are encouraged to participate.
During the webinar, MASSP’S Bob Kefgen and Colin Ripmaster will share current COVID-19 data and projection models that may be used to inform district decision-making and planning of commencement and other end-of-year activities given the current Stay Home, Stay Safe restrictions. The presentation will include modeling of possible timelines for loosening social distancing restrictions using the criteria in the White House’s “Open Up America“ plan, alongside state and local hospitalization and infection rate projections. In addition, the presentation will include recommendations for a continuum-based approach to planning that can take into account the fluid situation regarding person-to-person contact, local capacity, priorities of stakeholders, and what might be reasonable and appropriate in one’s local community.
Participants will earn 1 SCECH credit.
Latest MDE Updates
MDE this week shared several updates and guidance documents. To make sure you have the resources you need, we’ve compiled a list of some of their most recent updates below.
Read by Grade Three Law Update
Today, MDE sent a memo announcing the temporary suspension of the Read by Grade Three law.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Governor Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-35 (COVID-19), specifically Section IX(C), strict compliance with rules and procedures around MCL 380.1280f(5) is temporarily suspended. This compiled law is best known as the Read by Grade Three Law. Section IX(C) of Executive Order 2020-35 relieves a district of the obligations imposed for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year to retain a pupil in grade three. The Read by Grade Three law has as its foundation state testing, which is not taking place this spring.
School and District Improvement Plan Reporting Requirements Flexibility for 2020-21 School Year
On Thursday MDE shared a memo to communicate to districts some flexibility regarding requirements for district improvement plans (DIPs), single building district improvement plans (SBDIPs), and school improvement plans (SIPs) for 2020-21. The department understands that many districts and schools are working hard to figure out both short- and long-term plans to support their students and staff. MDE wants to provide districts with flexibility to reassess local planning as necessary.
Flushing Your School Plumbing System Before Resuming Class
Due to Executive Order 2020-35, which suspends face-to-face learning at K-12 schools for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year, the drinking water system within a school building will not be under typical daily use for an extended period until class resumes. Water stagnation may affect the quality of drinking water; therefore, flushing is an essential procedure for water quality management. Please see the information from the Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy.
Building Healthy Communities Program
For the 2020-2021 school year, grades K-12 may apply for the Building Healthy Communities program to address the health and wellness of students and staff.  Building Healthy Communities is a school-wide initiative designed to prevent childhood obesity and create healthy school environments. There are three program opportunities to help meet the needs of Michigan schools – Elementary School Program, Middle School Program, and Step Up for School Wellness Program.
Fiscal Year 2021 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program Grant Application Available
MDE announced that the MEGS+ application for the FY2021 Fresh Fruit and Vegetable (FFVP) grant is available. Please note – this year, eligible schools are school buildings that house elementary students. MDE considers elementary students as those in grade 6 or lower. Building sites with elementary students that also contain students in grades 7 and higher may apply but must ensure that ONLY K-6 grade students receive the FFVP snacks. Ineligible sites are high schools, middle schools, or pre-K only buildings.
Census 2020 – Be Counted Michigan!
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Even 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.
The U.S. Census Bureau has also created many easy-to-use resources for parents and caregivers. You may find these to be helpful resources to include in your parent and community newsletters:
  • Home and Distance Learning Activities Page: The Statistics in Schools (SIS) website has a new page dedicated to at-home and distance learning. The page provides a variety of resources and materials — videos, fun facts, warmup activities, and more — for various grade levels that are easy to use at home. SIS resources help students bring census data to life and learn more about their community, state, and country. These materials will help parents and caregivers ensure that their children are engaged, learning, and having fun during this time. As appropriate, use this link to share the new page with educators and families in your community.
  • Response Rate Map: Students can stay up to date on how many people in their community have completed the census. Tell parents and caregivers they can use the response rate map with students at home to complete the following activities:
    • Check the map each day for the latest completion rates for their state or community and create a chart or other graphic to track the increases.
    • Track how their community’s response rate compares to the rates of other communities in the state, or compare their state to other states.
    • Use social media to encourage friends and family to complete the 2020 Census. Students can motivate others by sharing the response rates map and using Census Bureau images created for social media. If students are too young to have their own social media accounts, you may want to specify that this should be done by an adult.
  • Participate Online Community: If educators in your school or district are interested in connecting with others using SIS resources in their at-home lessons, encourage them to join the SIS community on the Participate platform, the SIS online community. This is an excellent way to get new ideas, resources, and personalized support from Statistics in Schools. Another great resource created for younger children is this Be Counted MI 2020 video, which shares the importance of responding to the census.
ICYMI: MASA’s Executive Order FAQ
We know you have many questions regarding the Executive Order suspending in-person instruction for the remainder of the school year. To help get answers, MASA staff have worked with the governor’s office, Thrun Law Firm, MDE, and other partners to create an FAQ document. This FAQ has been shared in the resource center as well.
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.
Resource Center
Take a look at the resources below that will keep students and parents engaged when the homework is done, as well as tools that will help school leaders during this unprecedented time.
AASA: Emergency Management, School Safety and Crisis Planning Resources
AASA, the national superintendents association, recognizes your concerns about the encroaching spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) and its potential impact on schools, and aims to provide the best, most up-to-date information available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To help educators during this time of school closure, AASA created a resource page with communications resources, guidance on special education and food service, webinars, help with crisis planning and so much more.
NSPRA Communications Resources
The spread of the COVID-19 is an ongoing issue for public health officials, but it also presents operational and communication challenges for school systems.
The National School Public Relations Assocation (NSPRA) has compiled helpful tips, resources and news items to assist school communicators and administrators in communicating about coronavirus-related preparation steps, response efforts and emergencies.
Hanover Research Resources
MASA Strategic Partner Hanover Research shared three new resources this week to help educators with online instruction and supporting families’ social-emotional needs.
#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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