Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed an executive order Thursday closing K-12 school buildings in Michigan for the remainder of the school year to stop the spread of COVID-19.

School districts will develop and implement remote learning plans for students. The Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators will make an application available Friday in which the districts can outline their plans to the state.

Remote learning plans can include a variety of instructional methods, including online learning, telephone communications, email, virtual instruction, videos, slideshows, project-based learning, use of instructional packets or a hybrid of multiple modes of learning.

Instruction under the plans must be equitable and accessible for students and families. If a district uses online instruction, the district should ensure that every student who needs it can access a device and an internet connection.

Students who are unable to participate in their alternate learning plan will not be penalized.

“I know that there is a lot of anxiety about how we’re going to move forward and meet the needs of our kids,” Whitmer said. “As a parent of two high schoolers, both of whom are going to miss out on prom this year and a senior who’s asking the same questions about graduation, we feel it in our own household.”

“But this is the best thing that we can do for the help of our children, for the tens of thousands of educators in Michigan who work in our schools,” Whitmer said. “This will ensure more kids and educators will return to school happy and healthy at the start of next school year. We’ll protect more families. And it will help us return to life sooner.”

Decisions on the awarding of credit and the issuance of grades for the remainder of the school year will be made at the district level.

Standardized tests, including the M-STEP and the SAT, have been cancelled.

High school seniors will still be given the opportunity to graduate this year.

If a senior was failing a course as of March 11, the districts must provide an opportunity for them to demonstrate learning in the subject matter and receive credit for the course.

Teachers will continue to be paid for the remainder of the school year, and student teachers will still be able to get a temporary certification.

Districts are allowed to adopt a balanced calendar for the 2019-20 academic year, extending instruction over the summer, and to begin the 2020-21 academic year before Labor Day without seeking additional approval from the state.

There were 249 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Genesee County as of Wednesday afternoon, and eight people in the county have died from the virus.

Statewide, there have been 9,334 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 337 deaths from the virus.

The first two presumptive-positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan were confirmed on March 10. Whitmer declared a state of emergency the same day and has since issued executive orders closing schools and nonessential businesses.

Andrew Roth is a reporter and photographer covering politics and policy in Michigan, as well technology, culture and their convergence. Andrew is a journalism student at Michigan State University and first...