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Rep. Markkanen: Bipartisan plan will help ensure safe return to school for U.P. students
RELEASE|August 17, 2020

State Rep. Greg Markkanen today joined the Legislature in approving a bipartisan agreement to help get students safely back to school – whether it’s in-person, online or a hybrid approach.

The plan, based on legislation Markkanen helped introduce in June, will allow school districts to work with local health experts and determine the best course of action for students, teachers and families in their communities. In-person attendance is not required at any grade level, but it’s strongly encouraged for grades K-5 when it can be done safely.

“The top priority is making sure Michigan students can get back to their schoolwork safely,” said Markkanen, of Hancock. “Upper Peninsula school districts, guided by data and doctors from their local health departments, are in the best position to weigh all of the factors and determine what’s best for families here in our communities.”

Highlights of the plan include:

Local control. Working with local health departments, school districts will continue to decide the best approach for instruction based on the specific situations and needs within their own communities.

Accountability and oversight. School boards will reexamine and recertify how their districts deliver instruction to students at monthly board meetings for the duration of the 2020-21 school year. Markkanen said this will give parents and others in the community a chance to voice concerns and spark modifications when necessary. Benchmark assessments will provide detailed information to parents and teachers about where a student needs additional help to ensure they stay on track.

Financial support. The Legislature already has approved a total of $583 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to be dedicated to Michigan schools, including an additional $350 per student across the board, ensuring schools have the resources they need. The funding includes more than $50 million in hazard pay for educators who have been flexible and innovative during the COVID-19 pandemic, and $18 million for safety measures and benchmark assessments to ensure student learning stays on track.

The plan now advances to the governor’s desk for consideration.

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