Almost a decade ago, the Michigan Legislature required that school districts give students an opportunity to recite the Pledge of Allegiance each school day and display a flag where the pledge is recited. See MCL 380.1347a. This obligation has generally been easy to meet – until the era of COVID-19. With many students learning remotely, how is this requirement satisfied? Does it even need to be? These are questions that many districts have probably not thought to ask.
At the time the law was adopted, the legislative materials questioned how the requirement would be applied to students in cyber schools. Inconveniently, that question was never answered before the legislation was passed. While perhaps not the most pressing issue in the current environment, it should be addressed by school districts.
This much is certain – the law is still in place, has not been suspended by authority, and should be followed. The issue becomes is how best to give each student an opportunity to recite the pledge each school day. Remember, reciting the Pledge is not an obligation that students have to meet; they simply have to be given the chance to recite the Pledge. Certainly, teachers giving the first lesson of the day can incorporate the Pledge into the beginning of their lesson. However, asynchronous learning presents challenges for students not gathered to learn live from a teacher.
While there are undoubtedly many options to consider, we will offer one – provide all students with a link to access at the beginning of the day (Zoom, Google, etc.) through which students can participate. The Pledge can be led by a school administrator from a classroom, with a flag in the background, or it can simply be a recording of someone reciting the Pledge. After providing students with the opportunity to recite the Pledge, the school’s obligation is met, and students and staff can proceed with the school day.
Of course, if you have questions about this requirement and how best to meet it, feel free to contact the Miller Johnson Education team.