Lucido votes to approve Return to Learn plan

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate on Saturday approved the bipartisan Return to Learn plan that would help ensure Michigan students receive a safe education when school resumes in the coming weeks.

“Providing students with a safe, quality education is one of the most important things we can do, and that is best achieved when local education leaders are empowered to make learning decisions that best serve their communities,” said Sen. Peter J. Lucido, R-Shelby Township. “That is truer today in the era of coronavirus, and the Return to Learn plan gives school districts the flexibility to make more and better health and safety decisions that will increase students’ opportunities to learn and achieve.”

The Return to Learn plan requires school districts to develop health and safety guidelines for all in-person instruction. The guidelines must leverage local data and be developed in consultation with county health departments. They should help inform staff, parents and students, and members of the community as to how and why certain instruction models are selected.

The plan gives districts flexibility on the total number of mandated instructional days and hours, as long as a full school year’s worth of instruction is provided. The legislation also requires regular two-way interaction between students and teachers, regardless of how they are offering classes. This is intended to ensure students enrolled in distance learning options receive the benefit of personal attention.

Under the plan, funding would be determined using a blend of the 2019-2020 school year pupil count and the 2020-2021 school year pupil count. The blended average will help ensure stability in funding levels.

The plan also requires benchmark testing to be conducted in the classroom, online or at home. Test results will be shared with parents, so they understand children’s learning needs, and they will be used by each school district to establish academic goals.

The legislation heads to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to receive final approval and be sent to the governor for her signature.