• HBSteller

Weekly Letter

Updated: Mar 13

March 12, 2021 (Joint Letter with Washtenaw County Health Department, WISD, & HC--See original email for appropriate links)

Dear Community,

After a uniquely long and difficult winter, I imagine we are all eager for springtime in

Michigan. Warmer weather and longer days are coming, and we continue to see a

steady decline of COVID-19 cases locally and nationally, which is promising. As

restrictions in Michigan and other states begin to relax, we are asking our community to

continue taking precautions that help minimize the spread of COVID-19. The health

and safety of our school community depends on each of us doing our part.

With spring break in just a few short weeks, I would like to take a moment to highlight

the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) recommendations for

domestic and international travel. At this time, the CDC does not recommend

traveling, and we strongly encourage delaying travel and staying home, even for

those who have been vaccinated. Travel increases the chance of getting and

spreading COVID-19. Although we may feel well and not have any symptoms, we can

still spread COVID-19 to family, friends, and others in the community during and after

travel.

However, if you choose to travel, we ask that you assess the risks of traveling and

follow CDC guidelines and recommendations in order to reduce the chance of

spreading COVID-19. As you get closer to traveling, check the CDC’s website for the

most up-to-date information on testing and quarantining before and after travel:

● When You Should Not Travel

● General Travel Information

● Domestic Travel

● International Travel

Travel Recommendations by Destination (By Country)

International Air Travel Expectations

International Air Travel Testing Requirements

● After You Travel

● Quarantine Guidance If You Are Fully Vaccinated

● Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Traveling

Honey Creek Community School and the Washtenaw County Health Department

will be following all CDC travel guidance and recommendations, and Honey Creek

Community School expects everyone in our school community to do so as well. If

Honey Creek Community School you anticipate needing to quarantine after upcoming travel, please contact Al Waters, awaters@hc.wash.k12.mi.us .


While we are all excited to return to some “normal” activities, we must remain cautious

in order to prevent another surge of COVID-19 cases. Please continue masking up and

social distancing. Monitor yourself for any symptoms and keep practicing healthy

hygiene habits. If and when you are able, please consider getting adults in your

household vaccinated.

Thank you for your continued support and partnership as we all work together to keep

our community safe and healthy.


Sincerely,

Al Waters

Executive Director

Honey Creek Community School


March 12, 2021

Honey Creek Community School In-person Learning Guidelines


Safety Measures

1. Masks

a. Masks must be worn properly, covering mouths and noses, by all people in the

building unless medically prohibited. Documentation of medical prohibition must

be provided to the Executive Director prior to students return to in-person

learning. Note: Many High Point Students do not wear masks.

b. Masks must be washed daily.

c. If students forget their mask, one will be provided for them.


2. Health Checks and Protocols

a. An online health assessment survey will be completed for each student the

evening before each school day. Teachers will monitor the surveys for their

student group.

b. Students displaying symptoms of illness, including coughing, sneezing, or fever,

will be immediately sent home and must either produce a negative test to return

or isolate for 10 days and be fever free for 24 hours.

c. Students displaying symptoms will wait outside with an administrator for an adult

to pick them up.

d. All adults entering the building must complete a Google survey health check.

Non-staff must show a screenshot of the survey to an administrator before

leaving the office or entryway.


3. Exposure

a. Students in the classroom with a student who is sent home sick: If their

classmate tests positive for COVID, all students in the class must quarantine for

a minimum of 10 days and may return to school if they are symptom free after 10

days. If their classmate receives a negative COVID test, the whole class may

return when test results are received.

b. Students who are a direct contact with a person with confirmed or suspected

COVID are expected to quarantine for 10 days (e.g. a household member has

COVID).

c. If a student in a 4-5 classroom test positive for Covid -19, that

d. Drop-off and Pick-up

e. Family members are not allowed in the building without permission from

administration.

f. Adults waiting with students must wear masks at all times.

g. Staggered student entrances will be used in conjunction with windowed drop-off

times. Students will enter through the outside entrance nearest to their

classroom.

h. Windowed student release times will be utilized to minimize crowding. You may

meet your student by their entrance door or ask them to walk to the curb at the

front of the building. Please maintain a safe distance from others at all times.


4. Social Distancing

a. 6’ social distancing will be maintained at all times. Floors will be marked with 6’

distances in areas where students are likely to congregate (e.g. Bathrooms,

cafeteria, hallways)

b. Signage will be posted in public areas advising social distancing and masking

requirements.

c. There will be no intermingling of classes in order to keep students in the same

groups across school hours.


5. Cleaning and Sanitizing

a. All students and staff must sanitize or wash hands upon entrance to and exit from

a classroom, with additional times determined by their classroom teacher.

b. Sanitizer stations will be placed in each classroom.

c. Student materials will be individual as much as is possible and will be located at

or near their desks in order to maximize distancing between students.

d. Any shared materials will be sanitized each day.

e. Students will keep their personal belongings with them in the classroom rather

than using lockers.


6. Food

a. Students will be asked to bring their own snack and full water bottle each day.

Water bottles should be taken home each night, washed, and refilled.

b. Families will be alerted by their classroom teacher if there is an in-person student

with food allergies in their classroom.

c. Snack will take place outside with students maintaining social distancing. In the

case of inclement weather, small groups will be taken to an unused classroom to

snack.

d. Lunches will not take place at school until we are in the “optional hybrid

instruction” phase in order to reduce risk of virus transmission. Instead, we will

have a half-day in-person schedule for students. When students are able to eat

lunch on campus (see cases numbers required for “optional hybrid instruction” on

the back-to-school plan), lunch will be staggered to allow students to maintain

social distancing with masks off for eating.


Daily Classes & Routine

● In-person instruction will occur (for those who chose it) every weekday with staggered

start times and a noon dismissal.


● Drop-off times at door nearest classroom: All students to arrive between 8:00 and 8:10

am and picked up between 11:55 am and 12:05 pm:


K -1 Will use the door nearest their classrooms. This is the first set of doors

along the main drive. Students will enter through the left hand door and be

directed in their pod area.

2-3 Students will enter through the door of the circle drive on Holmes Road.

Drop off students near the flagpole.

4-5 Students will enter through the main entrance and be directed to their

classroom.

MS Students will enter through the first set of doors along the drive. This is the

same set of doors used by K/1. Students will enter through the right hand door

and be directed up the stairs to their classroom.

○ Student arrival and departure will be monitored by staff.


● K/1 and 2/3 Students will stay with their base class in their base classroom for

instruction.

● Specials that occur before pick-up (elementary only) will take place in base classrooms

with specials teachers streaming video into the home classroom.

● Recess will be staggered to allow for students to maintain social distancing with masks.

Recess activities will take place in the fields to allow for appropriate distancing.

● 4-5 and middle school students will circulate between classrooms for the various

subjects. Work stations will be sanitized between classes.

● 4-5 and middle school students will need to bring their Chromebooks to school each day

and bring them home for base and specials in the afternoon each day.

● Weekly schedules will be shared by base teachers once class numbers have been

confirmed.

● Assignments and materials will continue to be available through Otus for both in-person

and online students.


Teacher Plans by Grade-Level

K-1 will have two in-person teachers, and two online teachers.

● Stephanie Yambrick and Elka Francisco will teach in-person.

● Students in Stephanie Yambrick’s class who return to in-person will remain in Stephanie’s

class.

● The other remaining in-person students will be divided between Stephanie Y.’s and Elka F.’s

classes to create equal class numbers.

● Stephanie Boling and Alexa Korpal will remain online.

● Students in Stephanie B.’s or Alexa’s class who remain online will remain in their current

classes.

● Students from Stephanie Yambrick’s class who choose to remain online will be assigned to

Stephanie B’s or Alexa’s class.


2-3 will have two in-person teachers .

● Mary Bassett and Salli Kropp will teach in-person.

● Students in Mary’s and Salli’s classes who return in-person will remain in their classes.

● Students from Jeannie’s class who return in-person will be divided between the two

in-person classrooms to create equal class numbers.

● Mary and Salli will be supported by a co-teacher.

● Jeannie will remain online.

● Those students remaining online will be placed in Jeannie’s online class.

4-5 will take a hybrid approach with all teachers teaching in-person and online simultaneously.

● Students will keep their base teacher.

● Students remaining online will join live instruction on Zoom.

● Students attending in-person will be instructed by all three teachers, rotating in their base

class as their cohort.

● Base class meetings will take place in the afternoons, with all students online.

Middle school will take a hybrid approach with all teachers teaching in-person and online

simultaneously.

● Students remaining online will join live instruction on zoom.

● Students will rotate through their academic classes with their math group as a cohort, having

two academic classes per day Monday through Thursday and Fridays will be all four classes

(half blocks).

● Base classes will only meet as a group in the afternoon.


Frequently Asked Questions

Will there be minimum standards for masks? As a public school, we are unable to

mandate a particular type of mask. However, we recommend that families adhere to the

CDC guidelines, which include 3-layer masks, either cloth or disposable. All masks

provided by the school are either purchased, medical grade masks, or masks made

utilizing cotton, polyester, and appropriate filter material.

Will there be transportation? No. We are unable to contract transportation services at

this time. If you are comfortable, you may be able to coordinate transportation with

another family.

Is aftercare available? Not at this time. We are not yet able to get potential aftercare

teachers vaccinated. However, Sue Hofbauer is working to explore the possibility of

aftercare. We also do not have space as High Point is using the cafeteria as a classroom

for some of their students.

Will all classrooms have windows that can open? Currently all classrooms have at

least one window that opens. We are planning to provide each classroom with a fan but

may not have them in place by April 6.

Will classrooms have air filters? Classrooms do not have air filters. Air filters that filter

at a rate and particle size necessary are cost prohibitive.

Will student schedules change? There will be some adjustments to schedules. Details

vary by grade level. You will be sent an individualized schedule for your student shortly.

Will my student have classes in the afternoon? All students will have PE scheduled

online in the afternoon. Middle school and 4-5 students will also have base meetings in

the afternoon.

Will we move to full days this year? We are unsure at this time. We are carefully

monitoring community spread and case numbers to determine whether/when that would

be possible. The board voted in December that full days would be considered when

there were fewer than 20 daily cases in the county and test positivity rates are less than

1.5%.

Will Honey Creek ban travel for families? We are a public school. We cannot require

families to stop travel or to enact safety measures outside of school. However, we do

ask that families not send sick children or children who have been exposed to COVID to

school. Sick children will be removed from the building and the parent will be contacted

to pick up the child.

What if case rates spike after our return to school? We will take guidance from the

Washtenaw County Health Department. We will also examine the age groups in which

the spikes are occuring. If the spike is reasonable and primarily in the University of

Michigan community, we are likely to continue in-person schooling.

Will there be isolation rooms? Upon guidance from the medical community, we will

use the out-of-doors as our isolation room. Administrators will wait with students until

parents arrive.

Will virtual instruction be available for the remainder of the year? Yes.

Will virtual instruction be available next year if student vaccines are not yet

available? We are unsure if we are able to provide this option in the fall. The state has

not released the paperwork or process for applying to provide online instruction.

Additionally, we must have permission from our chartering organization (the WISD) to

provide such instruction. We were able to do so this year due to the emergency order.

If/when the state releases the paperwork and process we will discuss applying for this

option with the WISD.

Can families be offered to have their spot at HCCS held in the fall if they do not

feel comfortable returning in person due to lack of vaccinations? Al Waters is

investigating the legality of this option and will communicate with the community as he

learns more.

How will the school handle students’ social-emotional well-being in this

transition? The school social worker and teachers are working together to ensure that

structures are in place to support students as they complete the school year. Parents

have also created a support group to share strategies and support one another.

Additionally, our PTO has worked hard to ensure that as many regular school events as

possible were able to take place this year so that students have a sense of normalcy.

My student is staying online. What will that look like? In k-3, class will look the same

online as it has so far this year with some small schedule changes and some different

classmates. In 4-8, class will look the same online as it has so far this year, but some of

their classmates will not be joining via Zoom, but rather will be in person with the

teacher.


March 11, 2021 (Instructional Mode Update)

Dear parents,

The survey has been closed. If you are one of the few families that have not responded, your child has been placed in the on-line mode of instruction. If you would like to change your selection, please email me or your child's base teacher directly. We will need the base class teacher's name and your child's name and grade along with your choice.


At this time we have had far more requests for in-person instruction than was indicated on our survey a few weeks ago. The large in-person student count may impact our ability to meet the CDC recommendation of six foot distancing in the classroom. Should we find this to be true, we will notify all families in that classroom.


Later today I hope to send out and update on our plan as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions.


Best,

Al


March 1, 2021

Greetings All,


At our Board meeting last week there was a great deal of discussion around offering an in-person instructional option beginning April 6, 2021. Families who remain uncomfortable with returning at this time will still have the online option. Current Covid-19 infection trends are going down and we are hopeful this will continue through March. Not all of our K-3 teachers will be returning to in-person instruction. Details around who will be providing in-person instruction will be provided with an upcoming survey. If your child’s teacher is not returning, and you wish to return to in-person instruction, your child will be assigned to an alternate teacher for the remainder of the year. We will ask you to make a commitment to return in person or remain online on the survey. We need consistency to assure proper staffing.

While we presently have enough certified teachers to provide for both in-person and online instruction, we do not have an adequate number of instructional assistants or substitutes. If you or someone you know would be interested in supporting the school by filling one of theses roles, please complete an application and forward it to me: https://412cea6d-a795-4989-8b62- 8e5677c1f59e.filesusr.com/ugd/51741a_f5839150b31f4c06abe51fd52ff79a38.pdf

State law requires school employees to complete a fingerprint background check and drug screen, so we need adequate time to have these things completed to get staff on board by April 6th.

There is also a bit of work that needs to be done to prepare the classrooms and building for our return. We will be asking for assistance in getting spaces prepared for appropriate distancing.

Vaccinations seem to be progressing at a reasonable rate, many of our staff members have received their first shot, and those who have not should get the option this week. I believe that all of our staff members who wish to be vaccinated will be by April 6th.

More good news--due to the news of our school opening we have received a great many applications for almost every grade. Thank you for everyone for spreading the word about our great community.

March is reading month and the PTO will be sponsoring the Read-A-Thon again this year. Look for an email to sign up for that fundraiser. There will be a March Madness Reading Bracket so keep an eye out for that.

We are going to have a virtual talent show!! The sign up is due by February 26th. Look in your inbox for the sign up. We need middle school volunteers!! If you have a middle schooler, please get them involved as this is their show!

March 3rd is makeup picture day!

The Equity Team meets on March 15th, April 19th, May 17th and June 21st. They are always happy to have new faces at the meetings.

Best, Al


February 21, 2021

Greetings All,

Now that we have had our big snow, I hope that things can settle a bit for the remainder of the year. I share concerns regarding the loss of instructional time, but I did receive reports from both faculty and parents that they lost internet service during the storm.

I hope that you have had the opportunity to read the daily emails from our Equity Committee. Also, please consider signing up to join one of the Justice Leaders courses.

I’m pleased to report that interest in Honey Creek is up this month. I will be holding an additional Enrollment Q & A on February 25th at 7:00 pm. I’m optimistic that we have enough interest to reach our enrollment targets next year.

Five of our elementary teachers will be participating in professional development next week. The faculty and I remain concerned about learning loss, particularly in the area of reading. This training will address those concerns and put us in a better place to provide remediation when we return. We were fortunate that a one-time grant became available to cover the cost of the training. Please review your class Otus page for any schedule changes.

Our next board meeting is on Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 5:30PM. Please join us. I will email the zoom link Tuesday, but it can always be found on our web calendar.

Stay warm!

Al


February 8, 2021

Dear Honey Creek Family,


“If I love you I have to make you conscious of the things you don't see.”

- James Baldwin

We recognize that racism exists and functions, intentionally and unintentionally, in our nation, our state, our county, our district, and in our school. Many of us have watched as current events violently revealed the systemic racism that continues to block our collective path toward true liberty and justice for all.


Honey Creek was intentionally created over twenty-five years ago by a group of parents with great minds and hearts, rich in cultural and ethnic backgrounds and a myriad family structures. They aspired to the idea that all families should feel that their children were safe physically and emotionally and would be given the opportunity to thrive academically. Their hope was to foster an environment that educated each student equitably; that it would recognize and celebrate differences; encourage individual potential, creativity, self-expression and confidence.

Many families, like yours, may have sought out our small school because of these values. However, our values and best intentions did not immunize us against the systemic issues that afflict our nation.


Members of our community have asserted that we still have work to do to become the school that we set out to be. We didn’t recognize the urgency of our systematic failure to address the issues that confront our black and brown families. Some became discouraged and left. We feel their absence. Others have stayed and are working to help educate us by creating an Equity and Diversity Committee, which is funding and delivering professional education to our staff.


We are writing to you from a place of open discomfort, surrounded by an ever-growing awareness of our own ignorance.


The faculty, staff, and administration of Honey Creek are committing to learn as much as possible so that we are better equipped to support our community, including those with marginalized identities.


We are educators, we know that we can create an environment that encourages reflection and change by addressing our own hidden biases - through our curriculum, our relationships, and our professional development. As community members, we want to listen, discuss, brainstorm, and motivate each other toward the goal of true equity and collective liberation.


Earnest and well-intentioned we may be, we are also imperfect; and we are going to make mistakes while we learn and unlearn how to better develop the skills necessary to truly transform our practice and our culture to navigate our way back to the initial intention of this school. Our goal is the same, our commitment is renewed. We are grateful for the members of this community who push us to be better.


We invite you to join us - to do the hard work, to be uncomfortable sometimes… to see, to learn, to acknowledge, to grow, to advocate.


Please consider joining the HCCS Equity and Diversity Team in promoting an environment in which all of our students and community members can truly thrive.


We will regularly share our efforts to learn and build our skills. It is our hope that with your help we will solidify our roots as a truly welcoming community.


With much love,


The Faculty, Staff, and Administration of Honey Creek Community School


February 1, 2021

Hello HC Community,


As we look toward a return to in-person classes, we are evaluating our needs to properly staff for that return. We will need to add instructional assistants and rebuild our substitute teaching team. To qualify, one must have 60 credit hours from an accredited institution of higher learning and pass a background and drug screen. If you or someone you know is interested, our application can be found here: https://412cea6d-a795-4989-8b62-8e5677c1f59e.filesusr.com/ugd/51741a_f5839150b31f4c06abe51fd52ff79a38.pdf

We are still in need of kindergarteners!! There are two additional Q & A sessions scheduled on February 9th and 18th at 6:00 pm. Here is the Zoom link: Join Zoom Meeting

https://honeycreekschool.zoom.us/j/82669122112?pwd=dFV0ZGFubHh3ejRnY0s3MlAwakV3Zz09

Meeting ID: 826 6912 2112

Passcode: n9S6YT

It is also on our calendar and Facebook page. If you know someone interested, please encourage them to apply now. If they wait until we return to Wagner Road, there will likely be a waitlist. Here is a link to our application: https://53709.schoolforms.org/

A last-minute waiver in the use of Title IV funds has allowed us to purchase 10 Mac Air computers. These will replace the computers that were purchased in 2012 and are presently being used by some of our teachers.

Picture day is February 17th and 18th...We need volunteers! The sign up for both picture times and to volunteer are on the same document. Link to Picture Day Sign up

Special thanks to all the families who filled out the survey. The compiled data was presented at our last board meeting. We will follow up with those families that did not participate in the survey. As you can imagine, meeting the various needs of our families is a challenge as we have some families looking for full-time, in person schooling; others looking for a hybrid option; and others who wish to remain online all year.

If all goes well, teachers over 50 will be vaccinated within the next few weeks and younger teachers will follow. I’m hopeful that our staff will be fully vaccinated before the end of spring break and we will be able to return at that time.

As you know, Shellee’s last day was Friday. She has been a true champion of the school since 1995 and will be greatly missed. I look forward to a time when we can come together as a community to celebrate her right of passage.

February Dates of Interest: 10th is count day!

11-15th midwinter break

Thank you and stay safe,

Al


January 25, 2021

Hello HC Community,

It looks like we are going to get a break from the incoming snow event since current predictions are lower than originally expected. When we are in-person, calling a snow day is based on predictions, conditions on the ground, and direction from our landlord, the Washtenaw ISD. Being online presents new challenges. Some of our teachers need to drive to the Willow Run building for dependable internet access, yet the last year has taught us that both the power and internet are flaky in that building when we have a weather event. Additionally, many of our families and teachers live in rural areas, and they experience internet outages in bad weather. While some may see me as reluctant to call snow days, I do want to forewarn you that the possibility exists even when we are remote.

If you have been following the news, you are aware that our local health providers are experiencing a vaccine shortage. My understanding is that they have not received enough doses to complete the vaccinations of individuals in group 1A. While the state health department has opened vaccinations to group 1B, which includes teachers over 50, neither the county health department or local medical providers have opened to serve that group. I have had two appointments canceled due to the shortage, and I am presently registered with Washtenaw and Jackson County health departments as well as IHA. In my most recent conversation with IHA I was told they expect to start on group 1B in mid-February. The process of getting our entire staff vaccinated may take a few more weeks.


You recently received an email from the Board Executive Committee addressing instruction options for the remainder of the year. Toward the end of that letter, there is a link to a survey. Thank you to all of those who have completed the survey. If you have not completed the survey, please take a few minutes to do so. In the survey you will be asked to verify that you read the email. It was sent by Nicole Garcia on January 20th. The survey will be found at this link:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScL64V7a79DHWYbC_dkBD41aW14U05QznT-uaJeeR58bUid7Q/viewform?gxids=7628

Our last review of responses indicated that 30% of families have not responded. Please do so as your input is necessary in the decision-making process.

· The first phase of school return will likely involve half-days for all students. This will prevent the potential for COVID spread introduced by community meals. As rates improve in our county we may be able to move to full days.

· Teachers will be vaccinated but students will not. While teachers will be vaccinated, we still do not know whether vaccinated individuals can transmit the virus, meaning that teachers will need to continue to adhere to mask wearing and social distancing when in person. Students will not be vaccinated during this school year, and are known to spread the virus asymptomatically.

· Students may be assigned to a different teacher depending upon the percentage of the community attending in person. For example, if only ⅓ of the grades 2-3 elects to return in person, only one teacher will be available for in-person instruction. We are not asking teachers to manage both in-person and online instruction.

· All students must complete a health screening form each evening prior to the school day. Families will be expected to take temperatures as part of the screening.

· All students must wear a mask and remain socially distanced at all times including at dropoff and in hallways. There will be no intermingling of classes in order to keep students in the same groups across school hours.

· Students must remain socially distanced during recess, if recess takes place. This means no contact activities (e.g. tag or football), no shared equipment (e.g. jump ropes or balls), and no close congregation.

· If a student present at the school is sick with any COVID symptoms, they must immediately be picked up from school and cannot return without either a negative COVID test or a 14-day quarantine if a test is not obtained.

· Students in the classroom with a student who is sent home sick: If their classmate tests positive for COVID, all students in the class must quarantine for a minimum of 10 days and may return to school if they are symptom free after 10 days. If their classmate receives a negative COVID test, the whole class may return when test results are received.

We understand that these are difficult times and difficult decisions and are doing our best to be as clear and direct as we can with the information we have. It is important to know that going in person at the moment is your choice and we will respect your decision completely. Please read through the Re-Opening Plan for more details.

Below is the link to the HC Re-Opening Plan

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y2pwVPuvMv_aPqbm6LU18TOF_VDDh8JaHrwXpG1qmCs/edit

There is still some normalcy:

Picture day is happening in a socially distanced way:

On February 17th &18th David Meyer will be at the Willow Run building taking school portrait photos. Make-Up Day will be March 3rd. His order form and parent letter are in a previous email from the PTO. Please keep in mind that the building is closed to students and parents. We have received special permission from the ISD and YCS to use the back hallway.

STUDENTS MUST ARRIVE WITH:

- A Mask

- Order Form--find this form in an earlier email from the PTO - Payment - Covid-19 Paperwork

Sign up here for pictures: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1nI1iQ6EFP_p9Uk9ovPblVujqaGQq7XQrksQFuJvgshA/edit#gid=0

The PTO has a delicious Fundraiser happening BUY DONUTS!!

Order NOW through Feb. 4th (or until they sell out)!

https://www.itsagooddaycafe.com/gimme-some-donuts

On behalf of the staff and myself, I’d like to thank the community and PTO for the generous gift of scrip this holiday season. You have our heartfelt thanks!

Stay Healthy,

Al


January 17, 2021

Greetings All,

I hope this email finds you well. It seems there is so much all of us are dealing with these days. There remains the continued pandemic and its negative impact on the ability to work for so many. We have ongoing concerns around school and mental health, and there is also the blatant racial inequality most recently exhibited in the way the riot at the capitol was handled.

On a positive note, this week marks an important time in our country--despite the efforts of many, we will see the peaceful transition of power. We also have the opportunity to celebrate the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior. Perhaps tomorrow is a good day to make “Good Trouble!”

Later this week you should expect an email from the Board Executive Committee. At the conclusion of the email you will find a link to a survey regarding returning to in-person school. There are still more questions than answers, and at this time our staff has not been able to be vaccinated. Recent news reports suggest that it may be awhile before the vaccine is available to our entire staff.

The search for a principal is going well. I have received resumes from a variety of qualified candidates. I’ll share more information with you on the process as we move forward.

Stay healthy!

Al


December 30, 2020

Greetings All,

I hope everyone is enjoying their holidays and vacation time. The end of 2020 is finally upon us, and I’m looking forward to returning to a more traditional school year in 2021. One bright spot is that we will be returning to our home campus on Wagner Road in the 2021-22 school year. Unfortunately, due to the construction delays caused by the Corona Virus shutdown, it looks like the move will be in January 2022.

Our temporary change in location as well as the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 has had a very negative impact on our enrollment. While two grade levels are full, the others have seats. We are down about 35 students which equals close to $300K in funding.

I will be holding additional enrollment Q&As through January and February. The next Enrollment Q&A is January 12th at 6PM. Here is the Zoom link to that meeting:

https://honeycreekschool.zoom.us/j/87021222705?pwd=L0R6ZE1mZ1FPNzAvVDJFQzRVVmQvUT09

We had a fairly low turnout at our last Q&A, particularly for kindergarteners. If you know of families who may be interested in attending Honey Creek, please send them the link above. They can also submit an application without attending a Q&A by following the link below:

https://53709.schoolforms.org/

The Board will be reviewing our learning plan at the next Board meeting on January 27th at 5:30pm. The Board, in conjunction with the administration and faculty, have been working on our return to school plan. The link follows:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1Y2pwVPuvMv_aPqbm6LU18TOF_VDDh8JaHrwXpG1qmCs/edit

Now that two vaccines have been given approval, we expect that educators will be eligible to start receiving them some time in February. I’ll update you as I learn more.

Remember, Shellee will be retiring at the end of this month. Many of her tasks have been assigned to outside services and the others will be assumed by me and Lauren. In an effort to place more emphasis on student learning, I placed an ad for a principal on our website this week: https://www.honeycreekschool.org/employment

Additional ad placement will happen over the next several days.

Please keep in mind that there is a Parent Support meeting on January 7th at 7PM. Watch for an email with the Zoom link.

You can also find this newsletter on the Honey Creek blog every week.

Here’s hoping for an uneventful 2021!

Al


December 13, 2020

Seasons Greetings All,


The holiday break is almost upon us. Keep in mind that to kick off the break, Friday December 18th is a half day. We return to virtual learning on Tuesday, January 5th, and the Board will review our learning plan at the January board meeting at 5:30 pm on January 27th.


Our December meeting is this Wednesday--same Zoom time, same Zoom channel. I'll send out an invite early in the week. At this meeting the board will review our return to school plan as well as our search plan for a principal.


We held our first Enrollment Q&A last Thursday, We will hold our second on Tuesday, January 12th, at 6:00 pm. We need many kindergarten students. Please ask your friends who are considering Honey Creek to participate in our Q & A.


The new building is coming along. Unfortunately, Covid has created delays. We are now anticipating a January 2022 move.


Here are some notes from the PTO and Foundation:


How to Contribute to Holiday Teacher/Staff Gifts: Make contributions via hccs.pto.treasurer@gmail.com PayPal (preferred method). Please add the note, "Holiday Collections". Contact PTO Treasurer Julie deJong or PTO Chair Mary Johnson to make arrangements to contribute by check or cash - do not mail checks past 12/18 as we are hoping to have gifts mailed to teachers by January 1st. Thank you!


The Foundation had its most successful Giving Tuesday yet! We raised over $3,000, and will receive around $1,500 in matching funds for a grand total of $4,500. Thank you all for your continued support. What an amazing community we have!



Have a wonderful break and stay healthy!

Al


November 2, 2020

Good afternoon,

I hope that you had some time to enjoy the sunny, mild, day yesterday. I have updates from both our Board meeting and the weekly health department meeting. As Covid-19 infection rates continue to grow (including the number of K-12 students infected), Washtenaw County Health has asked school administrators to inform families that the county is likely to return to Phase 3 in the next week or two. Should the county return to Phase 3, all schools, public and private, are required to return to online instruction.

At our board meeting on Wednesday night there was a great deal of discussion regarding addressing the needs of students with IEPs. We are in the process of developing a plan to do so. We are also preparing a plan to provide in-person instruction once we return to Phase 5, with an option for doing so while in Phase 4. Of course, both of these efforts will depend on what Phase we are in as well as the availability of staff. We have several staff members who either are at-risk or provide for another who is at-risk.

In my most recent survey twelve families indicated that they are experiencing difficulties with their internet connection. If you are one of those families, please let me know by replying to this email. I’ll see what can be done to improve your situation.

Recent changes to the Open Meetings Act require us to conduct in-person board meetings beginning in January. Considering the Covid-19 rates in our area, this may change. Expect monthly updates on this issue.

Finally, the Board approved a change to the calendar to allow for staff professional development. There will be no school on the following days:

· DAY 1 - Nov. 3/T: Mental Health First Aid for Youth for 10 staff (rest of staff work day)

·DAY 2 - Nov. 11/W: Mental Health First Aid for Youth for 10 staff (rest of staff work day)

·DAY 3 - Nov. 30/M: Title 9 (2 hours); SIP/Formative Assessment/CASL/Equity Series

·½ DAY 3.5 - Dec. 18/F: SIP/Equity/Form. Assess Series

·DAY 4.5 - Jan. 4/M: SIP/Equity/Form. Assess Series

·½ DAY 5 - March 26/F: SIP/Equity/Form. Assess Series

·DAY 6 - April 5/M: SIP/Equity/Form. Assess Series

Many thanks to the PTO and all of the volunteers for a very successful Drive-Thru Fall Festival. Please don’t forget about the Pie Sale.

Have a great week! Remember, no school on Election day!

Al


October 26, 2020

Greetings all,

I hope that your week is off to a great start. I’ve enjoyed seeing students back in the building the last few days. It is rather eerie here without them. I would like to thank the teachers and parents for helping us navigate the transition to distance, online testing. There have been a few pitfalls, but we seem to be working our way through them.

It was also great to see so many families at the Drive-Thru Fall Festival. The weather gave us a bit of a scare in the afternoon, but it did break and it turned out to be a nice evening. I enjoyed meeting a few new families as well as all of you who have returned. Many thanks to all of the volunteers (too many to name) who came out to make the night a pumpkin chunking success!

A new law requires us to make a few additions to our board agenda and to link it to the calendar on our website. It is at the same ZOOM time and same ZOOM station. Here is the agenda link for this Wednesday’s meeting https://docs.google.com/document/d/1769E2en-o_I2xo9JnGTfWfa9dZinYAjT-UjrF0eDPEM/edit .


Have a Boo-tiful week!

Al


October 17, 2020

Hello Community,


I hope you are enjoying the beautiful fall weather and the bright colorful foliage. It is time for parent/teacher conferences, and most teachers have sent out Zoom invites. Thank you again for everyone's patience while we navigate Zoom calls and social distancing. These are trying times.

If you have a student in the fourth through eighth grade, you should have received an email from your grade level team outlining the option for participating in the state mandated benchmark assessments. Students have the choice of taking the assessment at home or in the classroom. Students who take the assessment in the classroom must complete the health assessment each morning prior to arriving at school. Temperatures will be taken at the door. Below is the assessment schedule:

The 4th and 5th grade students will be assessed on Monday, October 26th and Tuesday, October 27th. The middle school students will be assessed on Wednesday, October 21st and Thursday, October 22nd.

Day schedule:

8:00-8:15 am -- Students arrive, submit heath screener and have temperature checked, report to base class

8:15-8:30 am -- Students prepare for assessment

8:30-11:30 am -- Students take assessment

11:35-11:45 -- Student pick up.

Feel free to contact me or your child’s base class teacher should you have questions.

A big shout out to David Spitzley for Candy Supported Jack-O-Lantern "CSJ!"

Don't forget the Honey Creek DRIVE-THRU Fall Festival, Friday, Oct 23 (5:30-7:30pm)

The October Board meeting is in Wednesday October 28, at 5:30.

Stay safe,

Al


Greetings All,

I hope that you are doing well. This week has thrown us a bit of a curveball. We have two 4/5 teachers out at this time, so 4/5 classes will be asynchronous for awhile. I will share with you any information that I can as things develop. I appreciate your patience as we work through this.

In the last week, I have been contacted by a few families inquiring about returning to in-person instruction and, in particular, the threshold at which we will return. Unfortunately, there are other factors to consider as we are a small district with limited flexibility in staffing.

At this time our area is in phase 4, which means the community spread is fairly stable. According to the executive order, we could begin in person classes at any time, with the understanding that if we return to phase 3, we would return to online instruction.

In August, the Board elected to remain online until late October; they confirmed that decision last week and will review that decision each month. Throughout this dilemma, the Board has been seeking the advice of Dr. Meurer, who is both a parent and an emergency room physician at UM Hospital. I'm not sure that I can fully state the rationale behind his recommendations, but I will summarize:

Our infection rate and community spread is low, but at this time very few students are in school and we have not yet seen the full impact of students returning to the universities.

We have also not seen the full impact of the cold and flu season.

If we look at districts that have returned, we see several outbreaks which have led to a return to online instruction.

We should be cautious as it will be disruptive to families and students to vacillate between online and in person instruction.

On September 28th, Bridge Magazine published an article claiming the infection rate at K-12 schools has increased by 64% in one week. Here is the link: https://www.bridgemi.com/talent-education/covid-outbreaks-spiking-michigan-k-12-schools-and-colleges

While the numbers are clear that we can return to in person instruction, the bigger challenge for us is the number of families and staff members who are willing to return. I have several staff members who have expressed they do not feel safe returning at this time. I have also had several families express that they wish to remain online for the duration of the school year.

Next week I will be surveying the families and staff to determine if we have the numbers to provide an in-person option. The information from the faculty will help me determine how we will need to reassign faculty and students to accommodate in-person classes should the board decide to do so.

I understand the concerns about the long-term effects of online instruction. I believe this approach is especially challenging for our younger students. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions, and I will keep you up-to-date on the Board's decisions regarding our instructional approach in these unprecedented times.

Here are a few other updates:

The good news is it was a slow week.  

UPDATE WRAT

We had a very successful Walk and Run-A-Thon. If you need to send a check please follow these directions:

1. Send through PayPal to hccs.pto.treasurer@gmail.com using the Friends and Family option, and include a note indicating the funds are for WNRAT. At that time, also send Mary (hccs.pto.chair) an email letting her know the amount so she can manually add it to your child's / children's account(s).

2. Send checks made out to "HCCS PTO" to me through the mail:

Julie de Jong 

7990 Lake Crest Dr.

Ypsilanti, MI  48197

At that time, also send Mary (hccs.pto.chair) an email letting her know the amount so she can manually add it to your child's / children's account(s).  

3. Send me an email to check in about dropping cash/checks off at my house, or ask me if it's possible to pick up from you.

Again, congratulations to everyone for working so hard to make the PTO's most important fundraiser of the year a huge success! 

UPDATE FROM THE EQUITY COMMITTEE:

The Equity Committee is working hard to put together a support group from families with special needs and /or challenging children.  We are starting this group with the goal to support one another, share tactics, and resources. We plan to start off meeting once a month on zoom. The commute is great so come and join us. If you are interested, please take the availability poll so we can best determine which night would work best for folks. Any questions please feel free to reach out to the equity committee or Heidi Ellis at ilonawud@yahoo.com

The Equity Committee is also putting on the next: Courageous Conversations Series: Learning & Unlearning for Racial Justice workshop is Mon Oct 12, 2020 7pm – 8:30pm. Zoom link to follow closer to the date.

Stay Healthy,

Al

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