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Governor Whitmer announces the Return to Learning Advisory Council

On May 15, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced the creation of the Return to Learning Advisory Council-via Executive Order 2020-88, formalizing a process for determining how schools may be able to reopen in the fall. The panel – which will be comprised of students, parents, frontline educators, administrators and public health officials – will be tasked with providing the COVID-19 Task Force on Education within the State Emergency Operations Center with recommendations on how to safely, equitably, and efficiently return to school in the fall. The State of Michigan will also partner with a national nonprofit organization called Opportunity Labs to bring national expertise to this project.

The panel will be made up of more than 20 members representing K-12 administrators and educators, health experts and community stakeholders.

“It’s critical we bring together experts in health care and education, as well as students, educators, and families to think about how and if it’s possible to safely return to in-person learning in the fall and how to ensure the more than 1.5 million K-12 students across Michigan get the education they need and deserve,” Whitmer said. “This panel will use a data-informed and science-based approach with input from epidemiologists to determine if, when and how students can return to school this fall and what that will look like.”

The Advisory Council will assemble critical voices from education, public health and communities across the state to identify the key issues schools must consider before opening, including:
Performing outreach to ensure the voices of stakeholders are included in the discussion of implementing the 2020-2021 school year in these challenging and uncharted circumstances.
Ensuring experts in public health and epidemiology are informing the discussion of safety returning to school.
Recommending actions to remove statutory/administrative barriers to delivering education before we are at Phase 6 of the MI Safe Start Plan.
Recommending actions to develop and improve systems for remedial support for students who experienced learning loss during the spring and summer.

On March 3, Governor Whitmer established the COVID-19 Task Force on Education which includes key state government agencies, including representatives from MDHHS, MDE, and others. Since then, she has worked around the clock with experts in health care and education to protect our students, educators, and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor closed school buildings to students on March 16. On April 30, she announced that buildings would remain closed for the duration of the school year. The original task force is tasked with recommending a roadmap and framework for school to utilize the plan for various public health scenarios.
Going forward, the Task Force will be informed by the Return to School Advisory Council.

Support for this project is generously being provided but the Council of Michigan Foundations, the C.S. Mott Foundation and other philanthropic organizations.

Anyone interested can apply for the Return to Learn Advisory Council by going to Michigan.gov/appointments and click ‘apply now’ under boards and commissions. You will be able to choose Return to School Advisory Council under the appointment information tab within the application. Applications are due by May 20.

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