Good evening, this is Superintendent Mark Potts with an important message for the parents of students grades PK-4.
As we begin the official start of fall this week, we need to re-examine where we are as a district and what the next steps are moving forward towards something that looks like normalcy. On a positive note, students have done very well in remote learning so far. I need to commend our teachers for the great job they have done so far with delivering quality instruction. On another positive note, student attendance has been much better than I even hoped for. As a district through last week, we were at just below 97% at 96.8%. That is amazing! Lakeside High school was at 97.8% and Erie at 97.9%. I would have never guessed that almost 98% of high school students would be getting up and logging on first thing in the morning. That is substantially better than attendance is under normal circumstances so thank you for all you have done to encourage and inspire and maybe coerce your kids to get on the classes.
That being said, the big question is “when are the kids going back?” Well here is the answer and the details as they stand today. It is not what I would like to tell you. We tried real hard to find a way to get everyone back every day, but we just cannot make it work under the restrictions we have to follow. I understand the very real concern about daycare and the difficulties many families are having managing the students being at home all day every day with work and other responsibilities. As much as I want everyone back, I need to make sure we do it in a safe and responsible way. Our goal is to get back fully as soon as we can do so.
Therefore, Primary (pre-k through grade 4) will open in a hybrid format starting the week of October 12th (most likely on the 12th). Students will be divided into two groups. We will keep family groups together. Half of the students will attend on Monday and Tuesday and the other half on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday will be just like Friday is now Students who opted to stay on remote when surveyed will continue on just as you have been.
The days will look like this – on Monday and Tuesday students from Group A for Michigan, Huron, and Ontario will attend in-person from 8am until 1pm or 9am until 2pm at Superior. They will grab a breakfast on the way in. Have a snack sometime later in the morning and get a bag lunch on the way home.
Erie, Lakeside Junior High, and Lakeside High School will stay in remote until the end of the 9 weeks (which is over at the end of October) at which time the plan will be to return in some fashion.
When students are at home as Group B would be on Monday & Tuesday, they will have an agenda posted with some work in Freckle Math or Lexia for example and will join their teachers at 1:30 for approximately 90 minutes of synchronous learning.
In other words, the students will be in school two days and have some assignments and meet with their teachers online like they do now in the afternoon on the other days.
In this way we can start getting kids back in the classroom in a safe manner. There will still be specials. There will be dividers as soon as they come in for extra protection. There will be water coolers in each wing since drinking fountains are still not allowed. There will be automatic hand sanitizer stations installed on each bus and throughout each building. We will be taking temperatures and have safety protocol for every imaginable situation. Should the situation become unsafe or there is an outbreak, we will quickly and seamlessly drop back to remote.
We have been cautious and will continue to be so. We have not had issues with our sports teams or band who have been together for some time now or with some special students who returned two weeks ago, but that does not mean we will get sloppy. Education is a top priority but it certainly does not trump the safety of our staff and students. We are currently the only district in our area not sending students to school. It has worked well because everyone has worked together, but we do need to start working our way back. This is how we will start and the rest will depend largely on things we cannot control, but at the appropriate time we will make a decision that is responsible and respectful of the safest possible way to educate our students in the most beneficial way academically – just as we have tried to do up until this point. We still have the goal of getting everyone back in normal fashion as soon as it is feasible and we can do it safely.
This plan still has some wrinkles to iron out and a few of the details may still need tweaking, but this should give you a pretty clear picture of what we plan to do for the near future.
Thank you for all you do and have done. These first few weeks have been amazingly successful. We will get through this. Fight off the negativity and lift each other up. Some will have a harder time than others, but we are always stronger together.
May God bless you as we take this next step together,