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By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More than 80% of Michigan school districts planned to offer some form of in-person instruction in February, which represented a more than 20 percentage point increase over the previous month amid a decline in the coronavirus' spread.

Michigan State University's Education Policy Innovation Collaborative said it was the largest monthly increase since the start of the academic year.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has strongly encouraged schools to offer a face-to-face option by March 1.

Researchers released a report Monday showing that 83% of traditional districts and charter schools planned to do so this month, with 65% offering a fully in-person option and 18% offering hybrid instruction. Just 15% of districts planned to be fully remote, down from 35% in January.

Districts' pandemic learning plans can be fluid and change after they are submitted each month to EPIC, the state Department of Education's strategic research partner.

The Democratic governor called the trend, which coincides with the vaccination of teachers, “encouraging.”

“With proper mitigation strategies, we can send kids back to class without compromising the health of our communities,” said Whitmer, whose administration in mid-November prohibited face-to-face instruction in high schools for a month to curb spiking COVID-19 cases and save lives.

About 65% of districts planned to offer full in-person schooling in February. They have 55% of the state's public K-12 students, a reflection of the fact that districts with the option tend to be smaller than the state average. Many students in districts with a full face-to-face option are choosing a hybrid or remote-only model, according to the survey, which said districts planned to provide full in-person instruction to 31% to 45% of students across Michigan.

“These data suggest that the Biden and Whitmer administrations’ efforts have encouraged districts to return to in-person learning. However, there remain troubling discrepancies for some of the most vulnerable students,” said MSU education professor Katharine Strunk.

By law, K-12 districts and charter schools have discretion over whether to allow in-person classes this school year and, if they deem it as safe, must prioritize the option for K-5 students. The percentage of districts and charter schools with a planned face-to-face option in February is similar to the ratio in October and November.

A Republican-led Senate committee on Tuesday heard testimony from parents and others about school closures. Some large districts, such as Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, remain fully virtual despite the governor's recommendation and may not offer face-to-face classes until the next academic year.

University of Michigan law professor Nicholas Bagley said his two children, who are in seventh and fifth grade, have not been to school in person for almost a year and that online learning is “not working for them” in terms of learning loss or their mental health. He said he has “no confidence” that the Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education will authorize five days a week of in-person instruction in the fall.

Bagley said Washtenaw County's vaccination rate for teachers is low and he asked lawmakers for help on that front. The district has not given a clear date for restarting school for special education or elementary students, he said.

He urged lawmakers to not give local boards “anything close to the same latitude” for the 2021-22 academic year. He proposed that schools be required to provide five days of full in-person learning a week and that students not “stare at a screen while they're in a classroom.” Only students who opt out of face-to-face teaching should be forced to go virtually, he said.

___

Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Tags: Associated Press, infectious diseases, health, public health, Michigan, coronavirus, charter schools, lung disease, education

News Source: usnews.com

Tags: news associated press associated press associated press infectious diseases health public health michigan coronavirus charter schools lung disease education countries news in person instruction michigan school in person learning in person classes associated press full in person districts academic year in february

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This stat may bode well for Michigan State in rematch against Michigan

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Michigan State got hammered by Michigan on Thursday, but one stat may be working in the Spartans’ favor for Sunday’s rematch.

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Mackinder pointed out on Twitter Saturday that Sunday’s rematch will mark the fourth time under Tom Izzo that Michigan State will play a team twice in a row. Mackinder noted that the Spartans won the second game all three times.

Tomorrow's game against Michigan will mark the 4th time under Tom Izzo that MSU will play the same team in back-to-back games (previous 3 were final regular season & 1st in BTT game). MSU won every 2nd game in the back-to-back.

2018 – Wisconsin

2016 – Ohio St

2008 – Ohio St

— Chris “Mack” Mackinder (@Chris_Mackinder) March 7, 2021

However, Mackinder noted the circumstances for those games were different from this one. Namely, the 14-11 Spartans appear to be inferior to those previous teams.

Now, tomorrow's matchup is different for many reasons.

*MSU was ranked in all other matchups; their opponents weren't.

*Those MSU teams were really good; MSU was seeded 5th (2008), 2nd (2016), and 3rd (2018).

*This Michigan team is ridiculously good; MSU is bubblicious.

— Chris “Mack” Mackinder (@Chris_Mackinder) March 7, 2021

One other aspect about the rematch that might work in the Spartans’ favor is that Michigan has already clinched the Big Ten title. They may not feel like they have much to play for, while the Spartans will be motivated to win to help their case for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid. If Michigan State is able to beat Michigan and then win at least a game in the Big Ten tournament, their resume would be greatly improved.

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