Download Report: Learning at a Distance Guidance From Michigan Department of Education

July 30, 2020
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This is a work in progress, a largely teacher-written efort to help address the immediate needs of staf who must address the immediate needs of children – at a distance – during a pandemic. This document seeks to help ALL districts improve learning at a distance: those with lots, some, and little technology. It is not meant to be a magnum opus, a document for the ages, but preferably one that can be modifed and adjusted according to the needs of educators and the students whom they serve.

In our local control state, with 842 local school districts serving 1.5 million students, we need to do the best that we can in each district to provide learning at a distance. “The best that we can” will vary across school districts. Some districts have been able to migrate to virtual learning while many others, given the absence of technology in the homes of some or most of their students, have not.

We do not denigrate or disrespect those who work and live in communities with little to no technology. We appreciate and respect the enormous caring, compassion, and creativity of educators across the state, many of whom serve children in communities with little to no technology. Likewise, we appreciate and respect the enormous caring, compassion,

and creativity of educators across the state who are fortunate to work in communities with substantial technology.

In the short term, we all need to do the best that we can to serve children, while recognizing this will mean diferent things in diferent communities at this extraordinarily challenging moment in our educational history and in our broader history.

In a recent quick survey of technology available in
intermediate school districts (ISDs) across the state,
ISD superintendents estimated that between 25
and 90 percent of the children in their local school
districts had computers and connectivity. Overall, we learned that approximately one-third of their students statewide did not have access to a computer at home and/or connectivity. At the barest minimum, these numbers would suggest 500,000 students without the requisite technology at home to connect to schools for virtual learning.

Yet the number of students without the necessary connections is in fact probably quite a bit greater. Some young children, some children with special needs, and some English learners may have the technology at home but not the capacity to access what they need without the support they typically have in bricks-and-mortar schools.

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