At-A-Glance: Compare K-12 and Higher Education Back-to-School Plans

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Please note, schools are being added to the School Tracker daily. To request a college or district be added or amended, please email covid19@detroitchamber.com.



The ongoing global pandemic has upended everyday life, and with it, education at all levels. Institutions and school districts are tasked with navigating how to educate students while also keeping them safe from the spread of COVID-19.

Here in Michigan, schools were ordered to close in-person teaching in March and continued that way for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year as the virus spread across the state.

As the majority of Michigan remains in “Phase Four” of the MI Safe Start Plan put in place by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, school districts, community colleges, universities, students, and parents across the state are trying to navigate what this means for the new school year that is quickly approaching.

With no in-person state mandate, online learning is the most common offering for higher education and K-12 school districts across the state as they create plans that offer some form of virtual learning, if not online-only. Below is a summary of higher education and K-12 plans from the Southeast Michigan region. Some statewide universities that regional students frequently attend are also included.

Higher Ed Plans: Hybrid of Online and In-person Learning Options

Colleges and universities are updating their plans daily for the upcoming 2020-21 school year, while COVID-19 concerns continue to rise. Most universities are opting for a hybrid of both online and in-person learning options, while a majority of community colleges have announced plans to only hold classes online.

Aside from the venue for education, there are a number of precautions that are being taken by the institutions that have chosen to in-person or hybrid options for the upcoming semester. Although, plans are changing daily as real-time feedback from other states with earlier start dates shows an uptick in cases from students returning to campus.

Some of these precautions being taken include:

  • Students and employees undergoing daily health screenings, COVID-19 tests, or completion of a COVID-19 symptom checker offered by the institution.
  • Instruction pivoting to online-only following Thanksgiving recess for the remainder of the semester.
  • Fall and winter break cancellations to keep students on campus, and not traveling back and forth from campus and home or on vacations.
  • Reductions or cuts to large lecture hall classes.
  • Reduced capacities for residence halls and dining facilities.
  • Social distancing, staggered activity timelines, and cancellation of sports.

View the full tracker of colleges and university plans below:

Table Updated Oct. 13


K-12: With No In-Person Mandate, Many Districts Offering Hybrid Model

School districts across the Detroit region and the State of Michigan are safely reopening over the next few weeks. Although, this year will look very different than past school years as virus concerns heighten. Last week, the Michigan Legislature and Governor agreed to a compromise that will allow Michigan’s 587 traditional school districts and roughly 370 charter schools to make their own decisions.

Many districts are choosing what type of learning works for their students which could be in-person, online-only, or a hybrid of both learning types. In the Detroit region, the reopening plans mainly shift toward online-only learning or a hybrid model.

View the tracker of K-12 plans below:

Table Updated Oct. 14

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