Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has been saying for some time now that she’d like to see state public and private schools return to in-person learning as of Monday. Many Battle Creek area schools are already at least offering in-person for elementary grades. But there’s no hard and fast across-the-board scheduling for that. Kalamazoo Public School administrators are deciding to stay virtual-only for the duration of the school year.

Michigan State University researchers at the MSU Education Policy Innovation Collaborative keep track of districts throughout the state. They’re reporting a little over 80% of Michigan schools are at least partially back to normal class settings. That’s an increase of better than 29% over January numbers. The MSU researchers say it is by far the largest increase since the start of the school year.

About 65% of districts around Michigan are offering in-person learning for all grades with about 18 percent offering some kind of split for in-person and virtual. Kalamazoo and Ann Arbor are among the 15% staying virtual only. But even that number is down about 35 % from January. So the tide is turning. Many districts, like Battle Creek Public Schools, are still offering virtual learning for students who have in-person learning available but whose parents want them to stay out of school. Governor Whitmer is characterizing the overall trend as “encouraging’.

State legislative hearings this week have focused on hearing from parents about the tough issues surrounding both in-person learning options where more people are close together, compared to virtual where many students are suffering from comprehension issues. And missing out on key interactions with fellow students and teachers.

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