New report: Increase of 200% in Michigan schools going remote due to pandemic

December 17, 2020

A new report on how K-12 students in Michigan have been educated during the pandemic has found a dramatic shift toward remote instruction in December. Of all school districts in Michigan, 32% switched from planning to offer some amount of in-person instruction to going fully remote only, which represents a 200% increase in the share of districts providing fully remote instruction.

The latest report is from Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Collaborative, or EPIC, the strategic research partner of the Michigan Department of Education.

Katharine Strunk, director of EPIC and the Clifford Erickson Distinguished Professor of Education Policy at MSU, believes this aligned with recent actions in the state to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Katharine Strunk Photo
Katharine Strunk

“The recent increase in COVID-19 infection has understandably led to many districts shifting to remote instruction,” Strunk said. “But the state’s most vulnerable students are disproportionately impacted by these trends away from in-person learning. It is critical that we consider how to mitigate risk while still advancing student learning as equitably as possible in the face of these tremendously difficult circumstances.”

The report also found:

  •  In December, more than half of all Michigan students are being educated using fully remote instruction.
  • Districts planning to offer fully remote instruction are no longer concentrated in large urban areas. While the majority — 82% — of all urban districts planned to offer fully remote instruction in December, more than half of suburban and more than a quarter of rural districts also planned to do so.
  • Pre-K students, students with disabilities, English language learners, alternative education and career and technical education students are all less likely to attend schools in districts that plan to offer fully in-person instruction in December compared to any month since the start of the school year.
  • While some disparities have been reduced, there are still significant differences in who is being offered the option to learn in person. In particular, Black and low-income students and students located in urban areas are by far the most likely to be enrolled in districts that did not plan to offer the opportunity to learn in person.

This is EPIC’s fourth report on how Michigan school districts are continuing to shift their instructional models to adjust to the COVID-19 pandemic under the current Return to Learn legislation. The data, published on Michigan’s Center for Educational Performance and Information’s Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan Dashboard, was accepted from districts on Dec. 9, 2020.

This article originally appeared on MSU Today.