How will COVID-19 school closures impact Michigan’s most vulnerable students?


**** Updated: March 27, 2020 ****

How are COVID-19 school closures in Michigan and around the nation likely to impact our students who are already vulnerable and far behind academically? 

We’ve pulled together this blog post to help you better understand what’s happening in real-time and offer some basic principles all of us can embrace as we continue to advocate for students. 

READ: 6 Principles to Help Vulnerable Students During COVID-19 School Closures >>

We will be updating this post as the facts on the ground change, so check back often.



On Thursday, March 12, Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order closing all K-12 Michigan Schools until April 6th. Earlier this week, that order was extended to run at least through April 13 to coincide with the stay-at-home order issued on March 23.

Update: On Friday, March 27, Governor Whitmer said in a radio interview, “it’s very unlikely that schools will open again this year.”


What to expect:

Distance Learning: The state’s guidance reads that “only those districts and schools that can ensure that all students have equitable access to quality learning opportunities should pursue a full transition to online learning.” On Friday, March 17, the Michigan Department of Education ruled that distance learning does not count toward the required instructional time.

Standardized Testing: On Tuesday, March 17, Michigan’s top school officials sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Education requesting a waiver from federal regulations requiring standardized testing. On Friday, March 20, the waiver request was granted.

Student Food Insecurity: The Michigan Department of Education requested and received a waiver from federal regulations Friday, allowing school meals to be distributed to families outside of school cafeterias. Many districts are delivering meals or offering pick-up locations for breakfast and lunch (find local meals). 

Supporting Essential Workers: On Wednesday, March 18, Governor Whitmer issued an executive order allowing K-12 classrooms to be retrofitted as temporary child care centers for “essential workers,” including law enforcement, health care workers, first responders, and others.

Legislative + Federal Action: 

Michigan: The Michigan Legislature was scheduled to resume session on Wednesday, March 24 and expected to address a supplemental K-12 school aid bill. However, that session has been canceled and it is uncertain when the legislature will reconvene.

Congress: The US House of Representatives passed a relief bill that features provisions for K-12 Public Schools including $50B directly provided to states to help stabilize school funding. The Senate bill, passed on March 25th, includes only $13.5B for K-12 schools, with the bulk of that money going to school districts based on the number of students that qualify for Title I federal aid.

Department of Education: The U.S. Department of Education announced broad flexibility for states in waiving federal testing requirements and clarified that federal law “should not be used to prevent schools from offering distance learning opportunities to all students, including students with disabilities.”

March 24, 2020
The Expectations Project

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