Weekly Letter 10/2/2020
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 email@example.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.