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Michigan won’t count online learning as school days – yet

child using a tablet at a table

The Michigan State Department of Education is not counting online classes as school days. That’s according to a memo sent by the state Friday to school administrators.

That’s in response to questions raised after Governor Gretchen Whitmer ordered schools closed until at least April 5 as part of the state’s response to the rapid spread of the coronavirus.

Don Wotruba is with the Michigan Association of School Boards. He says the state made the right call – but that could change.

“If this is prolonged and goes on for a longer period of time, than that’s open for more discussion," he said. "But I still think it’s likely going to have to be something that is both online and some other mechanism.”

Wotruba says students perform better with classroom instruction with a teacher in the room. He says there are also still pockets of Michigan that don’t have high-speed internet in every home.

“Two weeks from now, if things change, we may seek different guidance," Wotruba said. "But right now, they are, in essence, saying online learning is not a substitute for face-to-face learning and could not be counted as such, and I think in the short term that’s a legitimate place to land.”

Wotruba says some options include simply ending the school year early, adding school days during the summer break, or creating a hybrid system for this year that includes some online learning.

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Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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