Michigan schools struggle to meet 75% attendance rate -- Teachers’ unions ask for change
LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The COVID pandemic and recent winter storms have taken their toll on classroom attendance.
Michigan teacher unions are urging state lawmakers to give schools more flexibility with classroom attendance requirements.
At least 75% of students must be in school each day across the district for the state to consider it a full school day. But, according to a recent survey conducted by multiple teacher’s unions, found that one-third of districts have multiple days under the state’s requirement.
The state allows school districts six snow days. However, Lansing Schools Education Association president Chuck Alberts said this requirement is currently unrealistic.
“When the rules come to a school district and say you have to make pre-pandemic standards to get full-funding, it is a hard sled to do that. It’s a steep hill to climb,” said Alberts.
Between COVID outbreaks, staffing shortages and poor weather conditions, many schools are approaching the maximum number of days they can take off.
Charlotte Public Schools superintendent Dr. Mandy Stewart said her district has only one day left.
“The purpose of the rule makes sense. We want kids in school we want a certain amount of instructional hours because we have missed time during the pandemic,” said Stewart. “The realistic aspect of making it challenging for schools to be virtual and then add in the extreme weather we’ve had on top of the pandemic -- it would be great to have some flexibility in this area.”
Once schools use all of their snow days permitted, any additional days taken will extend into summer vacation. Schools have the option to request additional days, but they aren’t always granted.
The Michigan Department of Education tells news ten that the department cannot provide flexibility when it comes to attendance laws. All changes must be made by lawmakers.
Republican Sen. Tom Barrett said he understands the tough position this has put educators in. However, he said changing the requirement isn’t the right solution.
“My sentiments go out to those that are dealing with everything educating kids in this environment, the answer isn’t just to forgo all requirements for kids to be in person,” said Sen. Barrett.
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