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What you need to know about schools reopening

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Posted at 9:54 AM, Aug 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-03 09:54:19-04

LANSING, Mich. — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Mid-Michigan, several area schools have announced plans to reopen for in-person learning, online-only learning or some mix of both approaches.

LANSING SCHOOL DISTRICT

Students in the Lansing School District will resume classes online August 26.

Parents are asked to complete an online survey for each of their students. It asks questions about the family’s technological capabilities.

One question also asks if parents would want their child to continue learning remotely even if face-to-face instruction resumes later this fall.

The school district's website said the district will provide a computer to students who don't have them. It also said the district is working with internet providers to make sure each family has internet access.

Attendance for online classes will be mandatory. Students' daily schedule will include time for meal breaks and physical activity.

For parents who can't work from home, school leaders are working with local organizations to set up child care. Free breakfast and lunch will still be provided.

The school board’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Thursday.

EATON RAPIDS PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Eaton Rapids will offer in-person classes and virtual learning for students who don’t want face-to-face instruction.

The school board gave tentative approval for what they call a blended learning plan, offering both online learning and face-to-face instruction for the fall 2020 semester.

The Superintendent Bill DeFrance said he thinks only 20 percent of students will choose to learn remotely.

According to Eaton Rapids, students opting out for the in-person plan will be divided into two groups and each group will go into the building two days a week.

One day a week will be dedicated to cleaning the schools.

CHARLOTTE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Students will return to school Aug. 24 in a blended plan.

During the week of Aug. 19, staff will meet.

The district will give students two learning options throughout the 2020-2021 academic year. They will be able to take advantage of online and in-person classes, keeping in mind the offerings are semester-long commitments.

Parents must make a decision in which learning option they will choose before the Thursday deadline.

JACKSON PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Jackson Public Schools are gearing up to teach via a hybrid model.

Students will attend school on different days to avoid exposure to each other, according to JPS Director of Communications Kriss Giannetti. Half of the students will have face-to-face classes Mondays and Tuesdays. The other group will be in classes Thursdays and Fridays.

This will give students an opportunity to meet with teachers in person to ensure they fully understand each subject. Zoom calls will be an important part of the learning process.

This learning model is established under the district’s Return to Learn plan.

The Jackson Public Schools Board of Education is investing funds into technology equipment to help students virtually learn.

Wednesdays will be set aside to sanitize the district’s buildings.

HOLT PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Another area school district will stick with remote learning when students return in the fall.

Holt Public Schools announced on its Facebook page that, at least at first, learning will be online only.

“The health and safety of our learning community remains our priority,” the post said.

The decision was made at a board of education meeting Monday; the vote was unanimous. The first day of school will be Aug. 31.

For more information, go to Holt Public Schools’ Facebook page.

WAVERLY COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Waverly Community Schools will use a full remote/online learning model to start the new school year.

The plan is scheduled to be in effect from Aug. 31 to Sept. 30 to match the length of the current state government executive order outlining coronavirus mitigation efforts.

“We all want to get our students back to the school buildings, but we know that we need to prioritize the safety of our students and staff first,” the post said. “While COVID-19 has changed our lives, we can and will make the best of it!”

According to the post, all students will receive an “electronic device” and child care option expansions are being investigated.

To read the full post and for more information, click here.

BELLEVUE COMMUNITY SCHOOLS

Superintendent Katherin Mohney said she’s giving parents the option to let their kids attend school in person or through virtual learning.

Mohney said it’ll be different from the distanced learning during the spring where students were sent home with packets and pencils.

"We want to make sure that every single student in our district has their individualized plan so that the families feel comfortable with what that looks like."

Mohney sent out a survey to all Bellevue parents.

That survey gave parents options that will make their kids safe and engaged in learning.

“By allowing a virtual option, we’ll be able to remain connected with every student and every family,” said Mohney.

OTHER SCHOOLS

Grand Ledge Public Schools and Dewitt Public Schools will announce their learning plans for the upcoming school year on Monday.

The Grand Ledge plan will be presented tonight during a special virtual meeting at 6:00 p.m. For more information on the meeting, Click here.

Grand Ledge Public Schools previously asked parents for feedback on what they’d like to see happen. The district says more than 3,500 people responded with their preferences.

Meanwhile, Dewitt Public Schools is also expected to announce their plan Monday. The superintendent of DPS, John Deiter, is recommending an online-only restart. Deiter said he will present his plan to the school board at their next meeting. He said his outline includes plans to return to in-person learning as soon as possible.

DeWitt Public Schools Superintendent John B. Deiter is recommending DeWitt Public Schools begin with remote instruction only for the 2020-2021 academic year.

“I am making the recommendation that we open the school year with remote instruction for all students with a plan to phase in students to in-person learning as soon as possible, starting with students with the highest needs,” said Deiter.

Deiter said he will give a presentation explaining why he made the decision and will provide information on what remote learning will look like.

“I want nothing more to see our kids back in school and back to being kids. I want school to look and feel like the school they left in March--it’s been far too long,” said Deiter.

The Mason Public Schools Board of Education is considering all options, including in-person and online learning.

During the meeting, several parents and teachers voiced their concerns about the future of the district including class sizes and how working parents will be impacted.

“It is important that we look ahead now and develop plans that address the needs of all students while continuing to provide quality programming,” said Mason Public Schools Superintendent Ronald Drzewicki. “We have our work cut out for us as we address many things like guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Michigan Department of Education, special education, internet connectivity and availability, working families and more. We are confident we will find a solution that works for everyone.”

The final plan may include all in-person instruction, all online instruction, or some form of blended instruction.

In a draft report by Okemos Public Schools, Superintendent John Hood recommended online-only learning in the fall.

The proposed plan would last through Oct. 30 “regardless of the MI Safe Start Plan phase.”

The reasons given in the report for the decision were:

  • Safest option for students, staff and families
  • Allows most consistent instructional method for uninterrupted instruction during uncertain times
  • Can be implemented with current staffing
  • Offer more rigorous online offering than in spring

East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko recommended to the ELPS Board of Education that the school year begin remotely this fall.

The ELPS school board did not make a decision on whether or not to move forward with the plan during their meeting on July 27.

Leyko’s recommendation needs to be approved by the school board by August 15, or at least seven days before school starts.

The plan calls for ELPS to go fully remote until at least Sept. 30. The plan aligns with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s current executive order, which is set to expire Sept. 30.

Leyko said if the executive order is extended, families should anticipate remote learning to be extended as well. She said young students will be the most challenged during remote learning.

Leyko said ELPS is forming a kindergarten transition team to help kindergartners adjust to virtual learning.

“Help design some activities, some opportunities, and even some one-on-one visits or something in small groups that might allow some students to meet their teacherm” Leyko said.

Leyko’s plan will outline that online learning will be more rigorous than it was when classes were originally transferred online at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Leyko said teachers will be able to break students into small groups for better instruction.

“We know that many families requested more live learning or at least live time with their teacher and not recorded videos,” Leyko said.

ELPS is working on finalizing schedules for students to follow while learning remotely.

Leyko said a student’s schedule will best mirror the schedule the student would’ve followed in person at school.

“We’re working on all of this all within the same time that typically our teachers and kids would be in the classroom learning, but knowing that all of our instructional work will remain on there so families and kids who can’t access it at certain times can access it later,” Leyko said. “We want it to be flexible.”

The district will count letter grades as well as take attendance, but will be flexible with families schedules.

“We don’t want to penalize families for not being able to make a certain time work so attendance could be taken by assignment completion and other ways too,” Leyko said.

All Pre-K through second grade students will receive an iPad, while all third grade students through high school seniors will receive either a Chromebook or a laptop. Leyko’s plan said ELPS will support families who lack high-speed internet by providing hotspots or other internet connectivity support.

Meal distribution and delivery will continue during remote learning.

Once ELPS decides to turn back to in-person classes, the transition period will take two to three weeks and will be done in phases. Those phases will begin with younger children and special populations returning first.

The plan will include both screen time and non-screen time activities and assignments. More synchronous time with teachers and classmates will be scheduled.

The superintendent’s plan said ELPS has made no decision on sports and extracurricular activities yet, but will monitor the Michigan High School Athletic Association guidelines.

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