Today Governor Whitmer announced Executive Order No.2020-35, which provides us with long-awaited guidance about what education in Michigan will look like in the coming months. In this email message, I will summarize the items that are of highest interest to our families. First, however, I would like to share the thesis:
“To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, protect the health and safety of this state and its residents, and ensure the ongoing encouragement of education enshrined in this state’s constitution, it is reasonable and necessary to temporarily suspend in-person instruction of K-12 students and provide limited and temporary relief from certain restrictions and requirements so that K-12 education may continue by the best alternative means possible.”
In short, while school buildings will be closed and in-person instruction cannot take place, education will continue in compliance with the Michigan Constitution, which states that “schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.”
Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan
All schools that wish to receive full funding by the State will develop a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan. The template will be made available to schools on April 3 and can be submitted for review (in our case, review will be by our authorizing body Eastern Michigan University) as early as April 8. Once approved, the Plan must begin no later than April 28. Within guidelines, schools are allowed to be very flexible in the way instruction is delivered. For New School High, this will be the same online method our students have been using since March 16. Tomorrow, the teachers and I will begin gathering what we need to submit our plan, which I expect to submit by April 8.
Decisions regarding the awarding of credit, issuance of grades, and the use of pass/fail designations will be made at the district level by districts with due recognition of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This means that different districts will have different policies regarding the way students earn credit or are graded, just as they have been before the pandemic. It is important to note that the State has no intention of removing local control when it comes to awarding credit or determining grades.
Seniors and Graduation
A district shall implement a process to issue grades to pupils in grade 12, award credits needed for graduation, provide for completion of the Michigan Merit Curriculum, issue diplomas to students in grade 12, and reflect continued learning by pupils in grade 12 pursuant to this order.
The Order lists one or more of the following options:
1. Award credits and grades based on coursework through March 11, 2020. If a student is not passing at this date, the school will provide an opportunity to the extent feasible to demonstrate learning and receive credit.
2. Provide an optional final exam or other culminating activity to test understanding.
3. Implement a process to graduate using a prior learning assessment, portfolio, or resume.
4. Offer an interdisciplinary culminating activity that encompasses essential standards missed by pupils due to the closing of school.
Rest assured, our seniors will not be denied their Graduation. Our beautiful ceremony will take place, even if we do not know the date at this time.
In the coming days, our staff will be discussing the issues relating to grades and credits for New School High students. These decisions will be made in compliance with the Governor’s order and with the best interests of our students’ learning as the highest priority. I will share the details as soon as they are available.
The Bottom Line
The most important message for our students and for their families is to continue with their education online. Check email and Google Classroom every day. Reach out to teachers with questions and ideas. Submit your assignments. Keep reading. “Schools closed for the year” does NOT mean learning is cancelled. Instruction has taken a different form, but learning will continue.
If there is anything you or your student needs – information, encouragement, or just a hello – I invite you to reach out to me or to any member of our staff. We are here to help!