By Mike Kruzman /

A local lawmaker is helping lead state Senate efforts at helping students and educators recover from the pandemic.

Senate Republicans have introduced an 11-bill plan to begin helping the state’s K-12 education system recover from a school year of academic losses brought on by COVID. State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township is the Chairwoman of the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee. She said in a release that the education system was “completely disrupted by the coronavirus,” and that “through no fault of their own, students, parents, teachers and school administrators were thrown into an extraordinarily difficult situation” by it. Theis said the disruption has caused too many students to struggle and fall behind, and their plan is a positive step that will help them recover.

The plan requires school districts to offer individual academic assessment and recovery plans by May 15th. Students would be compared to where they should be academically and plans would then be made to help get them to that point. Parents, under the plan, would have the express authority to hold their child back a year if they feel it necessary. The implementation of the 3rd grade reading loss retention law would be delayed until next year, and M-STEP testing would be suspended for this year. For teachers and administrators, tracking student growth would be simplified for this year and would not count as much towards their performance rating. Districts would also have greater flexibility in hiring substitute teachers to ensure more frequent in-person instruction.

The plan has been referred to the Senate Education and Career Readiness Committee for consideration.