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The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has rolled out a voluntary COVID-19 rapid antigen testing program that will provide free weekly tests to K-12 educators who opt in.

MDHHS is providing testing supplies at no cost to any interested public or private school. The tests will be administered on site at the school.

State health officials say the testing program will help achieve Governor Gretchen Whitmer's goal of an in-person instruction option in all Michigan schools by March 1.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
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steve carmody / Michigan Radio

The state of Michigan is accepting applications for a new tuition-free assistance program.  

“Michigan Reconnect” will help residents earn an associate's degree or post-secondary certificate at their local community college or a private training school.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says the program will help the state meet a growing demand for high skilled-college educated workers.

student writing on paper
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The Michigan Department of Education again has asked the U.S. Department of Education to waive standardized testing for the 2020-2021 school year so Michigan teachers can focus on making sure students are caught up in their education.

betsy devos
U.S. Department of Education

Former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was an advocate for education issues that are popular with many conservatives while she was at the helm in Washington D.C. But DeVos' tenure in the Trump Administration came to an abrupt end last week when she resigned in protest after thousands of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

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The state of Michigan wants students to have a chance to come back to their classrooms in less than two months. The state's largest teachers union supports the plan, but wants some assurances.

gretchen whitmer wearing mask at podium
Michigan.gov

Governor Gretchen Whitmer is strongly encouraging all K-12 schools in Michigan to reopen for some in-person instruction by March 1. The move comes as the state is set to offer the coronavirus vaccine to teachers starting next week.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Do you sometimes have trouble finding just the right word?

Wayne State University is out with its annual list of long forgotten words worthy of a second chance.

So if you find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the morning, you can simply say you have Dysania [di-SANE-nee-ah]. 

Michigan Supreme Court
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

A deadlock on the state Supreme Court could allow taxpayer funds to go to religious and other non-public schools. The money would partially reimburse the schools for the costs of complying with health and safety mandates.

The court deadlocked 3-3 and one justice abstained. That left standing a lower court ruling that non-public schools can be reimbursed for some expenses. That’s despite a 1970 voter-approved amendment that says public funds cannot support non-public schools. 

Courtesey of Muskegon Community College

The application deadline for the state's Futures for Frontliners program is December 31, 2020. 

According to state officials, 100,000 essential workers have applied since the program was kicked off in early September. But officials hope even more will apply before the upcoming deadline.

The program offers free tuition towards an associate degree or industry-recognized certificate at community college. It also provides tuition to complete the requirements for a high school diploma.

a classroom of empty colorful chairs
Flickr user Frank Juarez / Creative Commons http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

The initial unaudited 2020 fall enrollment count is down by roughly 53,000 students from last fall's count for Michigan's K-12 school districts and public school academies.

State Superintendent Michael Rice announced the 3.7% decline Wednesday. 

In a written statement, Rice estimated that about three quarters of the decline is due, in roughly equal shares, to fewer kindergartners, more homeschool kids, and an estimated public school population decrease based on an average annual decrease of 13,000 students over the last ten years.

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A recent order from Governor Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services requires remote learning to continue for public high school and college students amid the COVID-19 pandemic. And while some districts offer face-to-face teaching for younger students, a number of larger districts—like in Detroit, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor—have opted for virtual school at all grade levels. But now a group of physicians is urging the Ann Arbor local school board to open up in-person instruction for elementary and special education students.

Children in the hallway of a school
Unsplash

Today on Stateside, a group of Ann Arbor physicians is calling for in-person schooling for the district’s younger students. We speak with a doctor about why he thinks the benefits outweigh the risks. Plus, as holiday traditions are put on hold, a performance of the Nutcracker moves online. And, Christmas tree sales are booming as people look for a slice of normal in 2020. 

empty classroom
pololia / Adobe Stock

A group of Christian high schools claims Michigan’s COVID-19 restrictions violate religious freedom rights.

The schools have filed a federal lawsuit in West Michigan to block the continuation of the restrictions.
That’s after the state Department of Health and Human Services extended its COVID restrictions through December 20.

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Michigan’s public schools have moved online, following orders from the state Department of Health and Human Services. Nobody wanted to conduct a school year like this, least of all Nikolai Vitti, superintendent of Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). Since fall, the school district offered a hybrid model of instruction including online and in-person. Making that decision was difficult.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The University of Michigan is paying more than nine million dollars to settle complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct by a former top official with the university.

Eight women, former or current university staff and students, accused former Provost Martin Philbert of sexual harassment and misconduct.

Flint Community Schools

The Charles Stewart Mott Foundation is granting $1,051,000 to Flint Community Schools with the intent of increasing access to remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

FCS has been conducting remote learning for its students since August. This grant is a supplement to a $163,000 grant given to FCS in April, towards the beginning of the pandemic.

Ridgway White is the president and CEO of the C.S. Mott Foundation. He says the money will be used to purchase over 600 iPads and 1200 Chromebooks.

School bus
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A state senator from the Upper Peninsula wants to change state law to require more “geographic diversity” on the state Board of Education.

Senator Ed McBroom’s bill would require political parties to nominate candidates for the board from different regions of the state.  The candidates would still run in a statewide election.

Subterranean / Wikipedia Commons

The state Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday on a challenge to Michigan’s ban on taxpayer funds to support private and parochial schools.

The fight is over a $2.5 million appropriation tucked into the $55 billion 2016 state budget.

The money was earmarked to reimburse non-public schools for the costs of complying with health and safety mandates. But its real purpose was to set the stage for a legal fight over the parameters of a 1970, voter-approved amendment. It says taxpayer funds cannot support non-public schools – including religious schools.

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Today on Stateside, Homeland Security officers arrested a former University of Michigan professor yesterday in Ann Arbor, on charges of bringing a minor across state lines for sex. A reporter talks us through what we know so far—and how we know it. Also, the president of the state’s largest teacher’s union on the need for masks in schools. Plus, a man whose job takes him to Michigan’s most haunted places.

books with mask
Adobe Stock

Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced this week that teachers and support staff who worked through the pandemic will be eligible for state grants.

The state’s budget set aside $53 million for teachers and $20 million for support staff to receive payments recognizing their work in the spring.

THOMAS PARK / Unsplash

Two universities in Michigan are now each reporting more than 1,000 cases in ongoing COVD-19 outbreaks, according to weekly data released Monday by the state health department. Meanwhile, pre-K-12 schools in West Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are being hit especially hard as those regions remain hot spots for the virus. 

 

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A commission has released the 47,000-student Detroit Public Schools from more than a decade of state financial oversight, restoring full control of the district's finances to the city's elected school board.

Despite widespread concerns, two new international studies show no consistent relationship between in-person K-12 schooling and the spread of the coronavirus. And a third study from the United States shows no elevated risk to childcare workers who stayed on the job.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
Anna Schlutt / Michigan Radio

On Friday, the University of Michigan's quarantine and isolation housing was at 46% capacity — a rapid increase from 22% the Monday before, but still a little less than half of the units that house students who have tested positive for COVID-19, had been exposed to someone who had tested positive, or were waiting on test results.

steve carmody / Michigan Radio

Flint Community Schools has scored a victory in a fight to get more money for special education.

A state Education Department official is recommending changes to a funding formula that could mean tens of thousands of dollars in additional special education funding for the school district.  

District officials asked for a review of the current funding formula that the Genesee Intermediate School District uses to distribute funding for special education in the county. In the 2019-2020 school year, GISD distributed more than $3 million in special education funding.

Orange County, Fla., has 8,000 missing students. The Miami-Dade County public schools have 16,000 fewer than last year. Los Angeles Unified — the nation's second-largest school system — is down nearly 11,000. Charlotte-Mecklenburg in North Carolina has 5,000 missing. Utah, Virginia and Washington are reporting declines statewide.

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The Detroit teachers union has ratified a one-year contract with the state's largest school system.

The short term of the contract is due to uncertainty over state funding for schools in future years, according to Detroit Public Schools Community District.

The contract boosts starting salaries for new teachers to $51,019, which the district says is the highest starting salary of any school district in Michigan.

It’s Count Day for Michigan’s schools.

But this being 2020, it’s a little different this year.

Twice during the academic year, Michigan schools count the number of students in class. The resulting number determines how much state aid schools receive.

But with many students spending class time at the kitchen table instead of in the classroom, Count Day is going to be different this year. 

Child reading
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The package of four bills (S.B. 1172, 1173, 1174, and 1175) would mandate a statewide strategy for identifying and intervening to help students with dyslexia. 

The focus on dyslexia is needed to improve childhood literacy in Michigan because it's the most common learning disability that affects reading and writing, according to the bills' sponsors, Sen. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor), Sen. Dayna Polehanki (D-Livonia), Sen. Jim Runestad (R-White Lake), and Sen. Lana Theis (R-Brighton).

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