Schmidt announces ‘Return to Learn Plan’

LANSING, Mich. — State Sen. Wayne Schmidt announced Tuesday morning the Return to Learn Plan, which utilizes federal funding to assist school districts and outlines top priorities for schools as they consider the future of in-person learning.

“As we look toward the future, it is important that we carefully consider the health and safety of students and teachers,” said Schmidt, R-Traverse City. “My colleagues and I have been talking with school administrators and teachers in our communities to understand what schools need to safely reopen.”

The Return to Learn Plan outlines the top priorities for schools to allow learning to continue in a safe and healthy environment. The plan includes $1.3 billion in Federal Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to help pay for the costs faced by administrators, teachers and students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan includes an additional $800 per student so schools will have the resources they need to implement health and safety measures for classrooms. School districts would receive additional resources to implement smaller class sizes and other adjustments, enhance sanitation procedures, purchase personal protective equipment and make building enhancements to improve safety.

“Students, school employees and parents need to have complete confidence that classrooms will be safe when the time comes to return to in-person learning,” Schmidt said. “Everyone has shown their ingenuity and worked hard to ensure students can continue learning in the face of this pandemic, but we need to start looking at future needs.”

The plan also includes language to provide continued support for learning at home and ensuring resources are available to promote distance learning in the meantime.

Resources will be available for all efforts undertaken after the statewide closure of classrooms on March 16. This includes device purchases, upgrades to networks and wireless connectivity, development of digital curriculum, mailing or personal delivery of educational materials, and professional development related to virtual learning.

“Our plan also recognizes the incredible work teachers did to finish the school year under extraordinary circumstances and provides a one-time payment of $500 for the untold additional hours and tremendous personal cost they incurred quickly transitioning to distance learning,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt also was appointed as one of the legislative representatives to the COVID-19 Return to Learn Advisory Council created by Gov. Whitmer earlier this month. The task force is responsible for leading the state’s efforts on students returning to school safely.

“I am honored to have been chosen as one of the legislative representatives on the council. I remain committed to working with other members of the council, my colleagues in the Legislature, and the governor to ensure a smooth-as-possible transition as we seek to return to some level of normalcy.”