Stamas supports bipartisan Return to Learn agreement

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Stamas on Saturday voted in favor of a bipartisan Return to Learn agreement designed to help ensure schools can safely teach Michigan students in the upcoming school year.

“These measures preserve local control and provide a framework for ensuring all Michigan students safely and effectively continue their education,” said Stamas, R-Midland. “Teachers and students face unique challenges during this pandemic, and this plan gives their schools the flexibility to make the decisions that work best to meet those challenges in their community. I am proud we were able to come together in a bipartisan way to ensure children will receive a quality education that prepares them for success.”

Under the Return to Learn plan, school districts must develop health and safety guidelines for in-person instruction based on local data and done in consultation with local health departments.

House Bills 5911-5913 would require regular two-way interaction between teachers and students, regardless of how instruction is provided, and give schools flexibility on the total number of mandated instructional days and hours, as long as a full school year’s worth of instruction is provided. The bills would determine pupil counts for state funding through a blend of last year’s student count (75%) and the new 2021 school year pupil count (25%).

The legislation also requires benchmark testing to be conducted in the classroom, online or at home. The results would be used by schools to establish academic goals and would be shared with parents so they understand their child’s learning needs.

“These reforms build on over $550 million in federal COVID-19 funds already approved for schools to support teachers and cover coronavirus-related costs, like adopting distance learning plans, enhancing sanitation procedures, purchasing personal protective equipment and making building enhancements to improve safety,” Stamas said.

The bills have been sent to the House of Representatives, where they are expected to receive final approval and be sent to the governor for her signature.