DPS adds 7th meals distribution site
By ZEINAB NAJM
Students, teachers and staff at local school districts and colleges have had to adjust their teaching methods and continuation of providing resources or information while schools across the state remain on a government-ordered shutdown due to the coronavirus.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer closed schools effective March 16 until April 5, which will extend into April 13 when students from Dearborn Public Schools, Dearborn Heights School District 7 and Crestwood School District return to school following their spring break.
Just two days prior she declared a state of emergency due to the spread of the coronavirus — also known as COVID-19.
DPS began passing out bags of free lunch and breakfast for students, while the district remains closed, daily at 10 a.m. to noon starting March 17 at Dearborn, Edsel Ford and Fordson high schools; McCollough-Unis, Salina Intermediate; and Woodworth Middle School. It was scheduled to add a seventh site — O.L. Smith Middle School — on March 23.
Parents or students can stop at any of the distribution sites between 10 a.m. and noon each weekday and pick up one bag of food plus milk for each child under 18 years old in the home. Students do not need to be present, and meals for Saturdays and Sundays can be picked up on Fridays through April 13.
The district distributed about 15,500 meals over three days this past week, DPS Food Service Director Jeff Murphy said.
“Our families are very appreciative of this service,” he said. “As word spreads, more families are using the meal program each day.”
PTA Council President Nofila Haidar said parents with special needs children or young infants who cannot leave the house to pick up meals can contact the PTA or her directly 313-443-7443 to set up a delivery to houses.
DPS Supt. Glenn Maleyko said the district’s crisis team meets daily at central office or via electric communication while schools are shut down.
The district has been putting out virtual visits videos on social media and its YouTube page providing updates from department heads.
“What makes me feel really good — I’m grateful, thankful and appreciative of, it gives me extra energy because they are long days right now so when I see people coming together, because that’s what Dearborn does,” Maleyko said March 16. “I’m grateful for our union heads, teachers, staff, community members and our students who are coming together.
“In these tough times we’re going to come together, we’re dealing with an international crisis that I have never seen in my lifetime, but we we’ll stick together, get through it and work together with all the important officials and community members that are stepping up to help us.”
Teaching lessons have been moved online for students through resources including iReady, Eureka Math, Kahn Academy and Google Classroom.
According to the district’s website, teachers will be monitoring how students are using their resources and checking email to answer questions from students or parents.
“Many teachers already use these and other online resources to supplement classroom instruction,” the website read. “Middle and high school students should watch their school emails for word from teachers about possible assignments and/or online classes.
“That said, we do not anticipate being able to move to entirely virtual schools for all 21,000 students. We also realize that many of our students do not have access at home to computers or the Internet and cannot effectively complete lessons.”
For elementary parents, children can access their online learning tools by accessing Clever and all parents should check their child’s individual school websites for updates and further information.
Individual schools within the district are coordinating the loan of Chromebooks for families who need them, with parents signing an agreement to return the device when schools reopen.
Remote learning plans have been communicated to families by school principals or classroom teachers via the school blog and other forms of communication, according to the district’s website.
“At this point in time, there is no direction that this mandated shut down will last beyond the designated time,” the district said. “However, if schools were required to be closed for an additional length of time, the district is beginning to make plans to expand remote learning by using a common platform that will involve staff, student, and parent training opportunities. Please stay informed through your school’s normal communication channels (blog, robocall, etc).”
For questions about the classroom learning plan, contact your child’s classroom teacher and for technology access support contact 313-827-3003.
A COVID-1 Emotional Support Hotline has been established where families can call 313-827-8500 or email [email protected] and receive emotional support.
The DPS Education Foundation has been asked to assist the district to help students, teachers and families while schools are shut down. Monetary donations can be made at www.dearbornedfoundation.org or by speaking to Executive Director Chastity Townsend by calling 313-827-8790 or emailing [email protected], as she is checking her voice mails and emails remotely.
Maleyko said major district events, such as graduation ceremonies, have been put on hold, but a decision on a postponement or plans will come in the future and that students will be honored in some way.
DPS closed Whitmore-Bolles Elementary School temporarily for March 12 and 13 after a staff member came in contact with someone who has the coronavirus. The staff member — who has not been identified — tested positive for the virus and is now doing very well along with the person who had the positive test that exposed the staff member to the virus at home.
The Crestwood School District Food Services staff and volunteers have handed out 2,500 meals to the community and will distribute more meals March 24 and 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at High Elementary School and Riverside Middle School. Meals include seven days of breakfast and lunch.
“We request that anyone who wishes to donate any non-perishable food items, as well as toiletries, to bring them to our central office,” Crestwood Supt. Youssef Mosallam said. “Through the support of the community, Dean Transportation, staff, and the Amity Foundation we will deliver to homes of those in need.”
Teachers worked in collaborative teams to develop enrichment lessons to support continued student learning online, the district said. Staff is available online for students during regularly scheduled work hours during the closure.
According to the district, the custodial and maintenance started cleaning, sanitizing and preparing for closing; secretaries keep parents informed and assist in preparing processes for
distribution of materials, conduct payroll and support parents to get student essential items such as medications.
Bond construction work will continue at buildings with one person set to open and close the buildings two days a week. All central office employees will be working remotely and Mosallam will be working from his office during the shutdown.
“As you can see through this timeline of events, and if you reference the letters that were sent home, things changed drastically and quickly,” Mosallam said in a district letter. “This was an ever-changing situation that we as a school district, a county, a state, and a nation have not faced in recent history. Therefore, teamwork and patience was, and still is, essential.”
Dearborn Heights School District 7 distributed breakfast and lunch starting March 17 and will continue on a Monday-Wednesday-Friday schedule until April 3 for all children 18 and younger. Each student will be given two days’ worth of meals with weekend meals being offered on Fridays with parents able to pick up meals on behalf of their children.
Pickup times and locations are 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Annapolis High School; O.W. Best Middle School; and Bedford, Madison, Pardee and Polk elementary schools.
Chromebooks also were provided to families March 18 at AHS with more being distributed from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. March 23 at the Board of Education office. Parents will be required to sign an agreement and put down a $50 cash deposit, but other options are available for families who may have an issue with the deposit and can contact Supt. Jennifer Mast if needed.
Mast can be reached by phone at 313-203-3180 or by email at [email protected]
Each district provided dates and times for students to pick up any materials needed from their buildings following Whitmer’s announcement. Districts have since closed buildings to the public per the governor’s order and only essential staff is visiting to conduct necessary business.
Meetings, non-essential events or gatherings of more than 100 people in a shared space will be canceled though spring break, as recommended by Whitmer.
Winter sports tournaments were suspended by order of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and spring sports competitions were suspended but practices are allowed.
Henry Ford College said classes were cancelled from March 16 to 22 and that during the delay HFC will work with faculty and staff to convert many classes to an online format and provide additional support for students who will be taking online classes.
Classes are scheduled to resume March 23, and by then students will know if their classes will be held online or will remain in a face-to-face format with a modified classroom to reduce the number of people in one place at one time, HFC President Russ Kavalhuna said March 16.
“We are making plans for students who have concerns about succeeding in online classes,” he said. “We are building ways to support students who do not have access to a computer and Internet. We we are evaluating ways help students who prefer to finish their work for this semester at a future time.
“Our on-campus student services will remain open to help you. We will make some changes in the way we provide these services, to make them available online or by phone, and to support social distancing.”
The Winter 2020 semester will now end May 11 with final exams from May 12 to 16, a week later than regularly scheduled. The 2020 spring gradation ceremony will be postponed due to the governor’s 100-person rule, and graduates will be notified when a new date is set.
As of press time, the main and east campuses were closed to visitors and students until further notice. The HFC Board of Trustees’ March 16 meeting was canceled and the next scheduled meeting is April 20 in the Rosenau Board Room on the main campus.
When addressing employees, Kavalhuna said he will have information on how the college will deliver 80 hours for full-time staff and 40 hours for part-time staff and plans on sending brief daily updates on how HFC will complete the semester.
Faculty who will move to online teaching will receive additional training in an online course module and processes next week, the HFC website said.
Faculty and staff will reach out to students to assist with access to online courses. Courses that are already online will continue as normal, resuming March 23.
For more information go to the new HFC website regarding coronavirus at www.hfcc.edu/coronavirus.
The University of Michigan-Dearborn reported its first confirmed case of coronavirus from someone within the campus community. It is unknown if the individual was a student, staff member or teacher, but the person had been self-isolating and receiving treatment.
“UM-Dearborn officials are engaged in ongoing collaboration with our colleagues in Ann Arbor, Flint, Michigan Medicine and the university’s chief health officer, Dr. Preeti Malani,” Chancellor Dominic Grasso said in an email sent to the campus.
Classes at the school resumed remotely in alternative formats March 16 and will continue through April 17, the last day of Winter semester classes. Final exams will be conducted remotely with faculty and instructors communicating how those will handled.
Summer classes also will be moved to remote learning with additional information to be sent to students, faculty and staff in the near future for the classes that begin March 30.
Under the new one-time bank of paid time off for use during the virus pandemic, employees on all university campuses and Michigan Medicine are eligible for up to 80 hours of paid time off.
Those hours are to be used in the case of quarantine, isolation or family care needs related to coronavirus exposure, illness or other related scenario or a temporary lack of work, the UM-D website said. Part-time and temporary employees, including student temporary staff, will be eligible for a prorated amount of time.
More details on the policy or to access the bank of time will be placed on the university’s human resources website or through the human resources office.
All events on the university’s campuses that were expected to draw 100 or more people were canceled until at least April 17, and included the April 26 commencement ceremony. Non-essential on-campus activities have been altered to minimize health risk such as the Spring Open House scheduled for May 2 which has been postponed.
The Mardigian Library, Stamelos Gallery, Early Childhood Education Center, fieldhouse, wellness center, UM Credit Union branch, bookstore in the University Center, ice arena and gymnasium remain closed. All athletic competitions, practices and events were also canceled until further notice. Food at the McKinley Cafe will be available only via carryout.
Virtual resources will be provided to the campus community, including Ask-A-Question and LibChats, virtual reference support and e-resources including databases, ebooks, and streaming videos through the Mardigian Library website.
UM-D suspended all international travel until at least April 17, with exceptions requiring approval. Domestic travel for university business is strongly discouraged, UM-D said on its website.
All U-M study abroad programs will be altered or suspended.
“We are facing a global health crisis, but we can get through this pandemic by staying calm and being smart,” Grasso said. “University leadership will continue working diligently to share information and updates to help you stay healthy and safe while we work towards continuity of learning and university operations.
“I am confident that we can safely fulfill our university’s mission during this uncertain time. Thank you for your remarkable efforts to help fight the spread of COVID-19 and for your commitment to the University of Michigan-Dearborn community, especially our students.”
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])