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Michigan Teachers Get COVID-19 Hazard Pay, State Passes COVID Education Bills

CBS Detroit - Teachers and support staff in Michigan can get state money for working through the Coronavirus pandemic as part of a school budget deal reached by the legislature and Governor Whitmer. According to MLive, teachers who work at public and non-profit-non-public schools are eligible for an extra $500. While public school support staff can get $250. How and when they get the funds it is reported that they should talk to their respective districts, but the funds are expected to be handed out by the state treasury in February of 2021.

In a press release, Governor Gretchen Whitmer said, "Our teachers and support staff have made incredible sacrifices this year to ensure our kids can get a great education while Michigan fights the COVID-19 pandemic,". She added, "They deserve all of the support we can give."

This money comes after the governor and the legislature worked out a deal to help districts across the state deal with the effects of the Coronavirus. According to the Detroit Free Press, the bills are meant to give school districts clarity in how to educate students online and in-person due to Coronavirus.

Governor Whitmer also said it was a good start for the state but the federal government needs to step up too. "These are great steps, but we will need a comprehensive bipartisan plan and funding from the federal government. It is time the Republicans in Congress to do their part to protect families and students across the country." she said in a press release reported by the Detroit Free Press.

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On Wednesday, the governor announced $65 million in federal aid to schools that have a large number of students who are economically disadvantaged. The money can be earmarked for PPE for in-class learning, or for technology for online instruction.

Michigan House Speaker Lee Chatfield, R-Levering, said he is very pleased with the deal they have reached. "What we're doing today is a true testament...of what can happen when we work together. This is a true testament of what can happen when we work in a non-partisan way,"

However, it is reported that many Democrats in the legislature opposed the plan. Arguing that it adds extra burdens without providing enough financial security. Specifically, measures that require additional standardized testing, reporting of educational plans, and virtual or in-person conversations with students.

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With the new legislation, the key components are no mandates for in-person classes. Districts will handle in-class instruction with local health departments. Funding for schools will still be based on attendance, but the count will be 75% from last year, and 25% this year. Those who take online classes will be counted as part of attendance. There is a waiver on the amount of time required for school, which is normally 180 days or 1,098 hours for a school year. The state can withhold funding if teachers don't have at least two one-on-one interactions with their students. Students will be assessed within nine weeks before school begins, and again by the end of the year for districts to receive funding. The state is requiring school boards to publicly review their plans every month so that there is more accountability and parents have a voice. The plan includes districts to create "education goals" for their students by September 15th and extended "COVID-19 learning plans" by October 1. Finally, the state has allocated $583 million to help students and educators, with $50 million of that hazard pay for teachers and staff.

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© 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Information from MLive and the Detroit Free Press contributed to this report.

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