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Weekly Letter

Updated: Mar 13, 2021

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


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, .

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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


● 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


● 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


● 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


● 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


● 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


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


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.



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-

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!


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:

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

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:

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,


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:

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