By Mike Kruzman /

A local legislator has provided an overview of the GOP’s plan for restarting schools in the fall. State Senator Lana Theis of Brighton Township spoke on the steps of the State Capitol building, giving comment on the Republican’s return-to-school plan, which they are calling “Return to Learn.”

Republican lawmakers are proposing a one-time $1.3-billion funding boost to help K-12 schools reopen during the pandemic. The plan would allow schools to begin before Labor Day without requiring a waiver, redefine “attendance” to allow for online learning, and reduce the number of snow day allowances to allow for remote instruction. The proposal increases state funding by $800 a student, and teachers would each get a $500 bonus.

Theis said the stories she’s heard throughout the pandemic from teachers working in environments they’ve not been prepared to teach in, to parents and students who have been left behind, have been full of heartbreak. She said what’s become very clear to her is that we need to provide significant flexibility, resources, and opportunities to kids, parents, and teachers alike for getting students the best possible education. Theis said safety is a major issue and there is no one-size-fits-all solution for districts. These bills, she says, will provide districts with the flexibility they don’t’ currently have.

In response, Gov. Whitmer said that while it is "encouraging to see Republicans in the Legislature acknowledge that education funding and the flexibility" are important, the proposal is "a copy" of a one-page plan offered by the school-choice advocacy group Great Lakes Education Project, which was founded by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the GOP’s plan pre-empts Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Return to Learning Advisory Council’s plan, which is set to be released on June 30th.