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Current Reality Tops any April Fools’ Joke by a Million

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications & PR

DashBoard, April 1, 2020

When I worked on my college newspaper, we did an annual April Fools’ Day edition filled with outlandish, entertaining, completely fabricated stories that were, in true AFD fashion, the exact opposite of the truth. If only our current reality were the worst, most elaborate April Fools’ joke we’ve ever heard.

Instead, we are halfway through the third week of a mandated school closure and about 10 days into the “Stay Home, Stay Safe, Save Lives” executive order as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. As hard as it is, those of us deemed “nonessential” (hopefully) haven’t been within six feet of a person outside of our household for at least that amount of time. Some of you are on “spring break” (sorry to those whose plans were canceled!) and others are plugging along as much as they are able. I’m amazed, impressed and inspired, but not at all surprised by what your districts have done in these unique times.

Ensuring children have food has been the main priority, but many have taken on additional efforts. Educators and students are using 3D printers to create much-needed face shields and masks for health care workers around the state. Teachers are reading books and posting recordings on social media and other online tools. Others are providing lesson plans and reaching out to their students as much as they can. Administrators are working tirelessly to maintain district functions and facilitate what they can for staff and students. Parents are juggling work schedules with maintaining some sort of structure (learning and otherwise) for their children. Countless organizations have stepped up to provide free resources. Boards are holding virtual meetings to keep their districts moving ahead.

Every story has been an amazing bit of light in a sometimes-overwhelming darkness (being a state prone to less sunshine than others particularly at this time of year doesn’t help)—please keep them coming!

In terms of the most recent information coming from the state related to the outbreak, it was announced that May elections will be primarily held via mail. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-27 this past weekend, which calls for the May 5 elections to be "conducted to the greatest extent possible by absent voter ballots issued and without in-person interaction."

Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson will be sending absentee applications to all voters in jurisdictions that have an item on the ballot. A postage-paid return envelope will be provided and at least one location in the area will be open on Election Day.

MASB (special thanks to Jennifer Smith and the Government Relations staff!), along with other state education associations, has been in contact with Gov. Whitmer’s office regarding the next steps after the current school closure order expires at 11:59 p.m. on April 13, 2020, along with related issues like missed days/hours forgiveness, third grade reading law enforcement, remote learning credit, accountability requirements for students, teachers and administrators, Freedom of Information Act and more. An announcement has been promised tomorrow and we’ll provide you with all of the information as soon as it is made available.

Our Legal Counsel and Director of Labor Relations/Policy Brad Banasik, J.D. is preparing frequently asked questions that provide more guidance for holding virtual meetings. We’ll also post a survey for you to complete if your questions about this aren’t answered in the document or you need more information. He has already drafted a sample resolution for if a board needs to grant emergency powers to its superintendent, as well as the initial FAQs on holding virtual meetings with a focus on the modified Open Meetings Act compliance as a result of the pandemic.

Lastly, for those who are able and interested in doing more, a volunteer website was launched this past weekend by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as a central resource with a variety of opportunities that can be accomplished from home or by going into your community. Blood is in high demand and donations are being taken around the state from healthy, eligible individuals by the American Red Cross (more information is available on their site).

As I said before, please keep up doing and sharing all of your wonderful works and check out Executive Director Don Wotruba’s message to you further down in the newsletter.

Continue to visit the MASB website for a one-stop resource of the latest COVID-19 news as it relates to public education. If there is anything you or your district needs, we are only an email or phone call away.

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