By ZEINAB NAJM
School districts in Dearborn and Dearborn Heights are making adjustments in the wake of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s April 2 executive order that effectively closed K-12 schools for the remainder of the school year.
The executive order specifically suspended face-to-face learning and for school buildings to close for the remainder of the school year unless the restrictions are lifted.
Facilities in the districts may be used by public school employees and contractors for the purposes of facilitating learning at a distance while also practicing social distance, Whitmer’s press release said.
Currently, the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators and the Michigan Council of Charter School Authorizers are developing a Continuity of Learning Plan template application for schools to use in order to create a localized plan.
The application was to be made available by April 3.
According to the press release, district plans will need to detail how districts will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely and how schools will manage and monitor their progress and information on how parents and guardians can learn more about the local plan.
Each district must have its plan approved by their regional intermediate school district before being implemented. Public school academies must have their plans approved by their authorizer.
Districts can also partner with one another to create joint plans, but they must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families.
All high school seniors in the state will be given the opportunity to graduate this year so that they may make a successful postsecondary transition. All standardized tests previously scheduled for the remainder of the school year, including the M-STEP and the SAT, will be canceled and there will be a date in October for rising high school seniors to take the SAT and for other high school students to take the PSAT.
Dearborn Public Schools Supt. Glenn Maleyko said the district is still reviewing all of the order’s details and are awaiting further direction from the Michigan Department of Education.
“However, our administrative team has already started developing a distance learning plan that will be submitted to our local intermediate school district as required by the governor’s order,” he said in a statement. “Approval by the ISD will ensure the remainder of the school year will count for the District and that we will continue to receive our school aid budgetary payments.
“A key component in the governor’s order is that students need to participate in distance learning or other forms of continued learning that is provided by the district. Items related to specific students or a specific grade level will be addressed at the school level in coordination with the direction taken by central office leadership. Principals and teachers will provide that information as it becomes available.
Maleyko also said further discussions will include how the district will honor the graduating class of 2020.
“I have a meeting scheduled with the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council on Friday and this will be part of the discussion. In addition, the board of education will provide direction and will appoint a committee to acquire student, parent, and community input.”
Dearborn Heights District No. 7 Supt. Jennifer Mast said Whitmer’s announcement wasn’t a surprise, due to the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“My team in District 7 has a lot of work to do to make decisions about developing a Continuity of Learning Plan that will be best for our students,” she said. “An equitable learning opportunity for all students is required. This will be a challenge for all school districts.
“Our students come to us with different resources, different abilities, different languages and different levels of support at home. We hope to have our plan submitted to Wayne County RESA in the next week or so.”
Crestwood School District Supt. Youssef Mosallam announced that all seniors who are scheduled to graduate will be granted their diploma and all students will be promoted to the next level of their instruction.
“We are in communication on how we will assist students to catch up with any losses of instruction time due to this unprecedented closure, but please continue to complete and work on all enrichment activities given by your teachers,” he said. “All teachers will continue to submit enrichment learning activities until the end of the school year with summer learning ideas to support student achievement.”
Mosallam also said all education teams will be reaching out to parents to schedule phone conferences to discuss Spring Individual Education Plans and 2020-21 placements. District administrators are still working to ensure the start of the upcoming school year is as smooth as possible and that with the support of the Crestwood Teachers Union, the district is working on a potential 2020-21 school calendar.
Westwood Community School District officials did not announce details for their plans, but a Facebook post from the district read, “We know that you have questions and we are sorting through the 17-page executive order to get answers to your questions. Please continue to check the Westwood Community School District website for updates and to ask questions.”
An email to Supt. Stiles Simmons regarding the district’s plans was not answered by press time.
For more information on the coronavirus in Michigan go to www.michigan.gov/coronavirus.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])