Stabenow Introduces New Bipartisan Bill to Help Michigan School Districts and Colleges Safely Reopen this Fall

The Reopen Schools Safely Act Will Help Schools with the Costs Required to Keep Students, Teachers and Faculty Safe

Thursday, June 25, 2020

U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow introduced a bipartisan bill today to help Michigan schools and colleges cover the costs of protecting students and educators from COVID-19. The Reopen Schools Safely Act will establish a major federal grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to help school districts and colleges reopen this fall.


A conservative analysis by the School Superintendents Association found that an average school district needs up to $1.8 million to reopen safely. The bipartisan bill was introduced with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy from Louisiana.


“As we look to the Fall, every parent, teacher and administrator I know is anguishing over how we safely return our children to school. The reality is, we can’t fully reopen our economy and parents can’t return to work, if our schools can’t safely open. And because of the incredible strain from the COVID crisis, states need federal help. This legislation has brought Republicans and Democrats together to put the safety of our children first and to make sure our schools and colleges have the resources they need to meet this unprecedented challenge,” said Senator Stabenow.


“Six studies in six years have come to the same conclusion: We underfund public school children and schools in Michigan,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Since 1995, inflation-adjusted resources for Michigan public school children and schools have declined significantly and now, with the pandemic, the needs of public schools have increased substantially as we face the greatest cut in post-Proposal A history. We appreciate Senator Stabenow for her leadership in this bipartisan effort to help hold our schools and children harmless amidst this pandemic, and send more federal dollars to provide the essential resources needed to re-open schools safely.”


“It was heart breaking for teachers not be able to teach our students in our classrooms for the last three months of this past school year. I want to return to school with my students to do what I love and was called to do - teach. This bipartisan bill will give funds to our schools so students can learn face to face safely with their teacher and have access to all the supports our schools provide,” said Sue Ladach, a Dearborn high school teacher.


“Parents want their children to return to school in the fall, but they do have safety concerns. Districts are addressing the necessary things that need to be done, but there is a cost to it. In Kent County, it is estimated that the additional monies needed to achieve this is $400 per pupil. This is in addition to all other costs that school districts have in providing education for their students,” said Andrea Haidle, the President of the Kent Intermediate School District Board of Education.


With the grant funding from Senator Stabenow’s bill, school districts and colleges will have flexibility to use these funds for any expense needed to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. These expenses include personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, temperature-screening equipment, certified COVID-19 tests, and more.


Governors, who will apply for the funding, will have the flexibility to determine the distribution of funds to local school districts, colleges, and universities based on the needs of their state.