Dearborn School Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko will co-chair one of three work groups related to the Governor’s Return to Learn Task Force.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced on May 15 that she would form a Return to Learn Task Force to develop details on how Michigan schools would reopen for next school year. In March, the Governor ordered all schools to close to slow the spread of novel coronavirus, later extending that closure through the rest of this school year.
The Return to Learn Task Force will include members of the Michigan Department of Education, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and health experts. The Governor is also taking applications for a Return to Learn Advisory Council that could provide suggestions to the task force.
To complement the Task Force’s work, MDE and State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice will convene three work groups – suburban, urban and rural – to provide input and help shape the guidance that MDE will provide to local schools about reopening. Dr. Maleyko and Deputy State Superintendent Dr. Sue Carnell will chair the urban group. Dr. Carnell was formerly Superintendent of Westwood Schools.
“To be clear, the Task Force will decide how schools will look when they reopen in the fall,” Dr. Maleyko said. “Our goal in the work group is to consider various options and then offer input from the schools’ perspectives in order to provide recommendations to the State Superintendent and the Governor’s Task Force. We will also help shape MDE’s recommendations for how to implement those changes.”
Dearborn Public Schools has also formed its own reopening committee to look at the particulars of how its schools will operate in the fall. That committee is chaired by Maysam Alie-Bazzi, executive director of staff and student services; Jane Mazza, president of the Dearborn Federation of Teachers union; and David Higgins, principal at William Ford Elementary and president of the Association of Dearborn School Administrators.
Dearborn Schools cannot release a plan for school reopening until it receives direction from the state, Maleyko said. For example, state law spells out that students need to attend class in person 180 days a year for districts to receive their state funding. While schools can get waivers for some students to attend online, it would take a change at the state level to permit students to attend school entirely online or even to develop a hybrid of half in-class and half online learning, Dr. Maleyko said.
The Return to Learn Task Force would be the ones to make such a recommendation. In announcing the creation of the task force, Gov. Whitmer said the group would develop “recommendations on how to safely, equitably and efficiently return to school in the fall.”
“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,” Gov. Whitmer said as she was announcing the Task Force on May 15.
Dr. Maleyko added, “I am pleased to head this work group and to be able to offer our input on how to implement whatever plans the state determines are necessary for minimizing the health risk to our students and staff as we resume school next year.”