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virtual learning

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There’s the achievement gap. And now we may be seeing the rise of the “in-person learning” gap, too.

As of this month, 83% of Michigan’s school districts say they’re already offering or planning to offer at least some form of in-person instruction, according to a new statewide survey. That’s a big jump from the  64% who were planning to do so in January, according to a release from Michigan State University.

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Kalamazoo Public Schools has been doing remote virtual learning since September, when the school year began. As the district enters its third trimester, the school board will decide on Thursday, February 11 on whether to stay fully remote, or offer a hybrid option.

The hybrid plan put forth by KPS would have students in classrooms two days a week, some synchronous learning on Wednesdays, and two days of asynchronous, independent learning. 

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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.

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The Ottawa County health department has temporarily shut down a Christian school in West Michigan, and the related legal battle is one of the first to challenge the state health department's recent orders.

Ottawa County issued a final "cease and desist" letter to Libertas Christian School in Hudsonville this week, alleging the school didn't report two teachers' COVID-19 infections and has refused to provide students' information to contact tracers. A judge denied Libertas Christian's request for a temporary restraining order against the county.

The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren's.

The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho's Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids — ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there'd be more family time and help with the chores.