By Bria Brown

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — More than 80% of Michigan school districts planned to offer some form of in-person instruction in February, a 20-plus point rise over the previous month amid a decline in the coronavirus’ spread.

Michigan State University’s Education Policy Innovation Colloborative said it was the largely monthly increase since the start of the academic year. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has strongly encouraged schools to provide a face-to-face option by March 1.

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Researchers released a report Monday showing that 83% of traditional districts and charter schools planned to do so this month — 65% offering a fully in-person option and 18% offering hybrid instruction. Just 15% of districts planned to be fully remote, down from 35% in January.

The Democratic governor called the trend “encouraging.”

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“With proper mitigation strategies, we can send kids back to class without compromising the health of our communities,” she said in a statement.

The report said districts with lower pre-pandemic student achievement are less likely to provide face-to-face or hybrid learning. It also found that districts offering fully in-person instruction tend to be smaller than the state average, while districts providing hybrid classes tend to be larger.

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