Dearborn Public Schools received approval from Wayne County Regional Educational Service Agency April 16 to implement its Continuity of Learning Plan. The plan spells out how the district will continue to educate students during the state-ordered closure of school buildings to slow the spread of COVID-19.
DPS will continue to educate students using a variety of tools, mostly online. The district will again distribute Chromebooks to families who need a computer to access the work, and the Dearborn Education Foundation has been helping families who need assistance to sign up for Internet service. If families truly cannot connect online, then the district will print and mail or deliver paper assignments for students.
“I have witnessed outstanding examples of distance learning and teacher to student interactions over the past month as we work through this unprecedented crisis,” Supt. Glenn Maleyko said.
Under the new plan, the district will provide enhanced learning opportunities to students at all grade levels. The work assigned by teachers will be factored into a final grade or credit for students. However, individual family situations will also be considered in any decisions on grading, especially for students facing adversity as a result of COVID-19.
“Parents need to know that we will continue to support their children and their education for the remainder of the school year,” Maleyko said.
Students who truly cannot do the work will not be penalized. This would apply, for example, if the child or a parent is seriously ill. The district plans to hold its traditional summer school classes for struggling students if the stay-at-home order is lifted in time.
Going forward, teachers will check in with students at least twice a week, via tools such as Google Classrooms, email or phone calls. If a teacher cannot reach a student, then school staff may try to contact the family to stress the importance of completing online work and to help resolve any obstacles that might be keeping the child from participating. Dearborn families who need to borrow a Chromebook are advised to email their principal to set up a time to get a device later in April.
Education for special education students will continue to be individualized as much as possible.
All public schools across the state were required to submit Continuity of Learning Plans to show how they would continue to educate their students during the school closure. Schools that do not do so will lose part of their state funding for the year.
Dearborn’s plan was reviewed and approved by Wayne County RESA.
“This is one of the most comprehensive and thorough plans I have read. It was well laid out and easy to follow,” Wayne RESA Supt. Randy Liepa said.
“I want to thank Dr. Liepa, the staff at Wayne County RESA along with our outstanding team in Dearborn for their support and leadership as we developed the Continuity of Learning Plan,” Maleyko said.
Late on March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all school buildings to temporarily close starting March 16. DPS opted to close all buildings immediately. The governor later extended the school closure to last the rest of this school year.
“Dearborn Public Schools remains committed to keeping our students at the center of all that we do,” the District wrote in its plan. “The public health crisis has only strengthened our mission.”
In its Continuity of Learning Plan, DPS noted that unlike many districts, remote learning for all of its students started the week of March 16, the first week of the school closure. Principals, teachers, staff and parent representatives all had a chance to comment on the continuity plan before it was submitted April 15.
The full plan and other related documents are available through the district website.
The plan also covers other elements required in the state closure order, such as assuring that all district staff will continue to be paid during the closure. Some staff could be assigned to different areas as needed.
Not included in the actual plan is a new grading system that will be used to evaluate student work since the school closure. The district has established grading criteria for each level that holds students accountable for their work while following the “do no harm” provision of the governor’s order. Students performing at the lowest level in each category may be required to attend summer school or be prevented from continuing to the next level in the fall, if they do not have a compelling reason why they could not participate.
Parents and students will be able to check their grades through Parent Connect and Student Connect accounts. Teachers will update grades at least weekly, according to the approved plan.
The district still plans to end the school year on June 11.
“Per the governor’s order, we will not penalize students who truly cannot participate in the work,” Maleyko said. “However, we are going to great lengths to remove every roadblock we can that would keep students from participating. Teachers will differentiate instruction to help meet students’ needs both academically and with technology. Now we need our parents and students to understand the importance of this continued learning and to do their part to help every child succeed.”