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New guidance tells Michigan schools what they must do for remote learning

A laptop computer is tethered to a projector in a math class at Southeastern High School in Detroit, MI. Anthony Lanzilote/Chalkbeat

Michigan school leaders will need to develop detailed plans for remote learning that include a number of assurances, including that lessons be directed by teachers, employees continue to be paid, and food be distributed to students in need.

Those are some of the guidelines included in a document released by the state Friday that spells out the requirements districts and charter schools must complete over the next few months.

School leaders can begin submitting their plans April 8. Some type of remote learning is required to begin by April 28, though the guidelines state that “districts who are able to begin their plans earlier are encouraged to do so.”

The guidelines released Friday come after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order, signed Thursday, that extends the shutdown of all face-to-face instruction in Michigan’s K-12 schools through the end of the current academic year.

“It is expected that schools will provide instruction at a distance using a variety of methods that meet local needs, including printed materials, phone contact, email, virtual learning, or a combination to meet student needs,” the guidelines say. “We should avoid assuming that continuity in learning can only occur through online means.”

Many school districts have been providing some type of remote learning since Whitmer first ordered school buildings closed March 12. And many have been working to develop longer-term plans in the event of a shutdown. The Detroit school district, for instance, plans to roll out an expanded online plan April 14, and Superintendent Nikolai Vitti is working with the business community to provide tablets and internet access for students.

That’s important in Detroit and many other urban and rural communities in the state, where access to the internet is limited.

It’s an issue that’s addressed as well in the guidelines, which require schools “plan and deliver content in multiple ways so all students can access learning.”

In filing their plans, school leaders will have to answer 10 questions. They also must submit a budget.

The plans must be approved by intermediate school districts (agencies that provide a range of services to local school districts) and charter school authorizers. And they also must be posted online so parents can view them. They must also describe the methods they’ll use to notify parents of the plan.

To view the guidelines, see the document below:

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