Most Michigan students have option: Return to class or learn at home

One in six Michigan students will be required to return to classrooms; one in five must learn from home. The rest have options. (Shutterstock)

Back to school

  • 16 percent of districts and charters will offer only full-time, in-person instruction.
  • 43 percent will offer an option of fully in-person, but not require it 
  • 10 percent will have only a hybrid model that includes some face-to-face learning and remote instruction.
  • 17 percent will offer an option of hybrid learning.
  • 12 percent are fully remote for all students to begin the school year. Those online-only schools enroll about 19 percent of Michigan students.
  • 3 percent of districts and charters weren’t specific about their learning models in the school reopening plans.

*Numbers may not equal 100% due to rounding.

Most Michigan school districts will give students at least the option of returning to classrooms, according to a study released Friday.

The study, by the Education Policy Innovation Collaborative at Michigan State University, which examined the school reopening plans of more than 800 school districts and charter schools, found that 86 percent of districts and charters will allow students to learn in school buildings at least some of each week, should they choose. Those schools enroll 79 percent of the state’s 1.5 million K-12 students.

More than seven of 10 districts and charters also plan to offer at least the option of remote learning at least part of the school week.

Michigan’s public and private K-12 school buildings were ordered closed in mid-March by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. About 1.5 million schoolchildren switched overnight to remote learning, either by computer or printed packets of school work.

For this fall, as long as Michigan remains in what state officials call pandemic Phase 4 or higher, schools have the option of reopening for in-person instruction, sticking with remote learning, or a mix of both. School officials have worked for months with local health departments to craft reopening plans, often after taking parent surveys.

Schools were required to submit detailed reopening plans to intermediate school districts and the Michigan Department of Education in mid-August. Those plans lay out safety protocols such as when and where face masks must be worn and procedures schools plan to follow if a student or teacher contracts the coronavirus.

The survey found the Lansing area has the highest proportion of schools that are starting the year online-only (26 percent) followed by metro Detroit (15 percent). The lowest rate of online-only schools is the northeast section of the Lower Peninsula (which includes Traverse City), at 2 percent.

The study found little difference in instructional models between traditional school districts and charters.

“With masks and other careful mitigation strategies, many children will have the opportunity to learn in person at the beginning of this school year,” State Superintendent Michael Rice said in a news release about the study. 

“With schools abiding by the requirements and many of the recommendations in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, teaching and learning in school are a viable option for many Michigan kids as the school year starts.”

Online learning protects students from the potential of contracting COVID-19 in crowded classrooms, but also has the potential of increasing learning gaps, said Katharine Strunk, the director of EPIC and a professor of education policy and economics at Michigan State University.

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Get real!
Sat, 08/29/2020 - 5:51am

That's good to know because they will all end up learning from home. The virus doesn't care about politics or what Trump thinks.

George Hagenauer
Sat, 08/29/2020 - 9:32am

A question i have is how uniform is internet access throughout the state? In many states rural and inner city areas have limited access especially for the type of Broadband needed for instruction- which may be a factor on instruction. If some of the new models work it may create some major future changes in schools in the state.

Nick Ciaramitaro
Sat, 08/29/2020 - 12:32pm

Most agree that in person education is best for a variety of reasons. But that is true only if it done safely. Teachers, administrators and even students put in many hours to develop the Michigan Safe Schools Roadmap found at Local school districts are working hard to make in person learning safe and available. But schools will only be able to stay open without fear of COVID 19 if students, teachers, administrators and all school personnel follow the rules set out. To provide safe and in person education requires everyone's cooperation. I hope we see that cooperation from all and stop the spread and educate our kids the best way possible.

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 9:32am

COVID-19 will never stop spreading. It will become manageable (at best) when a proper vaccine is developed. Kids need to adhere to the basic guidelines of hand-washing, staying home when sick, eating a healthy diet....
They can not build an immunity system while being in lockdown, quarantined and bathing in Purell. School is the best place for them. We live on Planet Earth and we have and will be exposed to myriads of diseases. We need to adapt. Evolve.

No Herd Immunity
Tue, 09/01/2020 - 2:58pm

EXACTLY! It will never happen. People sometimes say, parents of poor kids have to work and need the daycare. Think about that. If they need the daycare, they will send them to school when they are sick. Those same parents will go to work when they are sick. Those parent may even be working in grocery stores spreading the virus to people who have to purchase food. This IN-PERSON "test" will be a clear "FAILURE." Yes, in-person school is NORMALLY ideal, but we are not living in NORMAL times. People are so thick headed. It's not even worth calling it a "test" because it's being done unsuccessfully in Sweden:

middle of the mit
Tue, 09/01/2020 - 6:41pm

YES!!! Sooo much this!!! 100,000,000,000,000,000,000X's!

We shouldn't be teaching our children hygiene! It only compromised their ability to contract and transmit disease to others, that if we are in contact with these viruses we will become immune, eventually.

There should be no more hygiene classes. Children and adults should no longer take daily showers. Hippies will be OK with this and so should the rest of us. It will save water and promote more viruses that we can subject ourselves to so that we may increase our immunity response and adaptation!

If you are going to take a bath? Do it at your local sewer authority. There are plenty of pools that are awaiting people so they may properly prepare their bodies, naturally, to disinfect themselves.

I wholeheartedly support this!/s