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A child wearing a backpack walks toward a school building. Other children and parents can be seen behind him.

Damiran Boler, 5, makes his way to kindergarten during the first day of school at Mark Twain School for Scholars in Detroit on Aug. 29, 2022.

Nic Antaya for Chalkbeat

16 back-to-school stories with news you can use

Hey, Michiganders (er, Michiganians)! It’s officially the first day of school in Michigan for districts and charters that didn’t get the OK from the state to start early. The back to school shopping is all done, all the supplies are in the backpacks, and the kids are back in the classroom. Now it’s time to turn our focus to news you’ll need to know heading into this 2022-23 school year.

Here, we’ve compiled some Chalkbeat stories with important information on some key issues, such as COVID safety protocols, test score performance, third-grade retention, chronic absenteeism, and staffing challenges. 

Also, be sure to sign up for our newsletter here, and read more about our team here.


COVID safety protocols

A teacher watches as students make their way into the brick facade of their school.

Emily Elconin for Chalkbeat

Where Michigan school districts stand on COVID protocols

Detroit_20220721_DPSCDMasks_GraceTucker_012.jpg

Grace Tucker / Chalkbeat

Masks are now optional for Detroit district students 


Attendance/Chronic absenteeism

A view down a school hallway lined by red school lockers. The hallway is mostly empty, but a few students are visible in the distance.

Sylvia Jarrus for Chalkbeat

Detroit launches attendance initiatives as rising absenteeism threatens pandemic recovery

A man working for Detroit Public Schools Community District stands at a table distributing papers to a mother and her two daughters.

Courtesy of Chrystal Wilson

Detroit’s back-to-school enrollment efforts take on new urgency 


Staffing vacancies

A teacher talks with three high school students who are sitting at their desks.

Allison Shelley / The Verbatim Agency for EDUimages

Michigan’s teacher shortage: What’s causing it, how serious is it, and what can be done?

A teacher works with students at a table, while one student in the foreground holds a book over the side of their face.

Nic Antaya for Chalkbeat

Michigan programs provide route for second-career teachers. Are they rigorous enough?

A teacher leans over to help a student with a summer school exercise at Brenda Scott Academy in the Detroit school district.

Lori Higgins / Chalkbeat

Detroit school district moves closer to being fully staffed


Legislative action

Chicago_stock_North_Grand_High_School_31_e1567202552799.jpg

5 policy changes affecting Michigan classrooms, cafeterias, and school buses

A photo of Betsy DeVos, the former U.S. Education Secretary, walking to a Congressional hearing.

Tom Williams / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Betsy DeVos-backed school voucher-like initiative submits Michigan petitions

A historic building with a tall spire against a blue sky with clouds.

Di’Amond Moore / Detroit Free Press

6 Michigan education proposals that lawmakers punted to the fall


COVID relief spending

A male school administrator in a suit helps a girl with a multiplication worksheet, sitting with her at a desk. They are both wearing masks to prevent the spread of COVID.

Tracie Mauriello / Bridge Michigan / Chalkbeat

COVID aid is a lifeline for financially troubled Michigan districts. Can they stay healthy?

Four young students lay on a colorful rug as their teacher guides them through a worksheet.

Sylvia Jarrus for Chalkbeat

Without state leadership, Michigan’s patchwork tutoring programs struggle to address learning loss

governor gretchen whitmer speaks into a microphone at a podium with the words MI kids back on track in front of a united states flag as a crowd looks on

State of Michigan

Gov. Whitmer proposes $280 million tutoring investment for Michigan


Michigan student test performance

Teacher holds a piece of paper in front of a classroom of students.

Nic Antaya for Chalkbeat

Michigan test scores down sharply from pre-pandemic

A young boy in a black Champion hoodie and mask reads a children’s book.

Rachel Wisniewski for Chalkbeat

Reading skills gap grows in Michigan

Detroit Superintendent Nikolai stands above two students working at a desk, talking with one of them as both students work on an assignment.

Nic Antaya for Chalkbeat

Detroit district students slide back on M-STEP tests as pandemic challenges linger

Ethan Bakuli is a reporter for Chalkbeat Detroit covering Detroit Public Schools Community District. Contact Ethan at ebakuli@chalkbeat.org.