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Ending school year a difficult choice for Gov. Whitmer

It’s a tough decision to make, but it’s the right one.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday issued Executive Order 2020-35, which dictates that all K-12 school buildings close for the remainder of the school year, unless restrictions are lifted, which seems unlikely considering the ongoing nightmare that is the COVID-19 pandemic.

The order, though, sets guidelines for remote learning. Each school district’s plan will differ and should reflect what’s best for that district. A plan can include learning through a variety of means, but districts have to ensure their plans are appropriate and accessible for all students.

Of course, that’s a huge challenge. They still have to provide mental health care services as well as meals for families that need them during the COVID-19 crisis.

It’s gratifying, though, that districts will be able to be flexible in adopting a balanced calendar for the 2019-20 school year and/or to begin the 2020-21 school year before Labor Day without having to seek additional approval.

This flexibility will be badly needed since the COVID-19 situation is so stressful and fluid.

We’re also happy to hear that all Michigan high school seniors will have the opportunity to graduate this year, and that all standardized tests will be canceled. A date in October is to be set for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT.

Perhaps something can be learned from the online experience, such as figuring out ways to integrate more remote learning into curricula.

Michigan Virtual, for instance, noted that the educational structure has been forever changed by the pandemic.

We can only hope that students who miss out on the traditional way of learning for a while won’t be permanently affected in an adverse way but all the disruption.

We believe that face-to-face learning typically is best, but Michigan — and the rest of the world — is in a precarious situation. The health and safety of schoolchildren, and all citizens, is of the utmost importance.

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