The MDE has released a new memo that is a must read for Principals and anyone else coping with the two-way interaction requirements imposed by the Return to Learn laws. MEMO #COVID-19-117: Two-way Interactions under Return to Learn Laws clarifies key changes made as part of the 2020-21 K-12 budget and does a great job encapsulating everything two-way interaction related. We've pulled out some key highlights below for skimming purposes, but the memo itself is a concise and clear reference when you need to refer to it.

What counts as a two way interaction and how do I document it?

To count, the interaction must be two-sided (i.e. include both a district employee and the pupil) and be "relevant to course progress, course content for at least one of the courses on the student’s schedule, or the pupil’s overall academic progress or grade progression." As the memo notes ""the state school aid act, passed by the legislature last week... expanded the content of these two-way interactions to include overall academic progress or grade progression."

Any of the following are acceptable forms of two-way interactions and documentation:

  • "a student who is physically present for instruction and attendance is taken...The attendance record is signed by the teacher and the record is maintained by the district."
  • "attendance on a platform such as Google Meet, Zoom, or Skype where live and synchronous instruction takes place is an acceptable form of two-way interaction."
  • "email, instant message, telephone conversation, or similar methods. A log of the two-way interaction should be maintained along with a copy of the communication."
  • "For the 2020-21 school year only, a two-way interaction may be evidenced by the documented completion of a homework assignment during the week. The assignment should be relevant to the course’s curriculum."

Who can log two-way interactions?

The student's "teacher or another district employee who has responsibility for the pupil’s learning, grade progression, or academic progress" can log a two-way interaction. As the memo notes, "the state school aid act, passed by the legislature last week, expanded these two-way interactions to include district employees other than teachers." Importantly, MDE did not define which other district employees this language encompasses, which means that your district will need to make a decision as to who you will have log interactions. Given the wide variety of district employees who could qualify under this language, districts may want to consult with their ISD pupil auditor about their specific plan.

What are the different reasons I need to document two-way interactions?

There are three different laws that require districts to log two-way interactions. To help you keep them straight, MDE knocked it out of the park with this handy reference chart:

MDE Two-Way Interaction Reference Chart