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The Dearborn Board of Education late Monday night authorized administrators to start a blended learning program for elementary students once community COVID conditions improved, but noted that may take several weeks.
The district can start bringing kindergarten through elementary students back two weeks after the Wayne County Health Department safety rating for the district improves to at least a D and the seven-day average positivity rate for Wayne County outside of Detroit is below 5 percent for at least two weeks. The county’s safe school matrix is based on the infection rate for that community (number of cases per 100,000 people), if the infection rate is increasing or decreasing, and the county’s positivity rate (number of COVID tests that come back positive).
Currently Dearborn Schools, along with most Wayne County schools, has an E rating on the county’s matrix. The district will work with Wayne County to try to get the relevant reports posted publicly and linked from the district’s web site. Dearborn Schools already has charts from other sources showing the daily and average positivity rates.
Two weeks after community conditions are met, the district will restart with blended learning where half of kindergarten to second grade students will come in for four hours on Monday and Thursday and the other half of students on Tuesday and Friday. Wednesday will be used for live online learning for all students. The district was authorized to restart as early as Nov. 16, but trustees doubted community conditions would improve quickly enough to allow that to happen. The seven day positivity rate continues to be more than 5 percent.
Two weeks after kindergarten through second grade students return, grades three through five would also be allowed to restart on the same blended schedule. Preschool programs would follow after the rest of elementary restarted.
Classes would move back to online only if conditions decline in the district or if problems arise at a particular school and the health department recommends closing that building for a while.
Under the approved plan, middle and high school students would not return to classes face to face until at least the second semester starting in mid January. Then, they would also probably restart with a similar blended schedule and a shorter school day. Dearborn Schools would be able to restart learning labs for students once the average positivity rate falls below 5 percent again.
For elementary students, schools would have siblings attend on the same day, dividing the school roughly by last name. Breakfast would be offered in the classroom, but students who wanted lunch would take a boxed meal home. Plans are still being worked out for how free meal distributions will continue for other students.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks while they are in the buildings.
The board’s meeting, which lasted more than six hours, also addressed how desks and other touch points will be sanitized every four hours or when students change classes, and looked at how many people with COVID have been on school grounds. The presentation to the board also touched on numerous other safety details like how schools will develop entry and exit procedures to help students social distance and social distancing in the classrooms and hallways.
School officials also noted that parents who are uncomfortable with the plan have until Friday, Oct. 30, to sign up to switch their children to the Virtual Learning Program. For information on the Virtual Learning Program, please visit https://vlp.dearbornschools.org. Individual questions can be addressed by calling (313) 827-3024. Any parent with a child already in the Virtual Learning Program does not need to re-enroll their student. Approximately 2,500 Dearborn students are now signed up for the program which will teach children online for the entire year. Dearborn Public Schools has more than 20,000 students.
Dearborn Schools opted to start by returning elementary students to face-to-face learning because those children have the most difficult time learning online and because those students are easier to keep socially distanced. The young students will stay in their classrooms during their shortened school day.
“We are grateful for this concrete plan to start bringing students back to our schools because we know most students learn best in-person,” said Superintendent Glenn Maleyko. “We hope with this gradual approach to show our community schools can resume relatively safely, and we ask the community to do its part to reduce the spread of the virus by wearing masks, social distancing, regular hand washing, and taking other safety precautions.”
With all of the Zooming going on around the district, we are aware of an issue with some Chromebook microphones. The good news is, updated Chromebooks now give you the ability to adjust your microphone volume.
But first, you have to make sure your Chromebook is up-to-date, which is always a good idea. To do this, click on the clock in the lower right corner of the Chromebook screen. Click the gear for settings:
Next, select About Chrome OS.
Finally, click on the Check for updates button.
Once your Chromebook is updated, click on the clock again. Then, click on the arrow next to the volume button. This will open up your audio settings.
From here, you can use the slider bar to increase or decrease the volume of your microphone.
Article from Friday’s First Bell:
Before we start enjoying another great fall weekend in Michigan, we thought it would be best to provide everyone with a bit of clarification on a recent email and text message that was sent to parents who are not part of the Virtual Learning Program (VLP). (Okay, to be totally transparent, there were a few parents who are enrolled in the VLP who also received the email and text by mistake. Sorry for the confusion. Please ignore the commitment form; there is no need to enroll again.)
The message that was sent out the other day provided a link and asked parents to complete a form by October 30th if they did not want their child attending in-person instruction and would prefer to be a part of the Virtual Learning Program for the remainder of the school year. We received several phone calls from parents who expressed that it would be difficult for them to make a decision regarding in-person or totally virtual learning without knowing what plan would be in place for in-person instruction. That is a fair concern, and we are sorry the message was not clear.
Sending out the form was a way to help us in determining if there were additional parents who now, after several weeks of on-line learning, wanted to maintain this form of instruction for their child once the district returned to some type of in-person learning. Knowing the number of students who want to be a part of the VLP will provide valuable information for staffing, scheduling, and classroom numbers for students who will be taking part in face to face learning.
In August, several hundred parents signed their children up for the Virtual Learning Program without knowing the exact details of how the district would restart the school year either fullly in-person, blended (both on-line and in person), or 100% remote. They made this decision because they knew given two choices of totally at home or some type of in-school learning, they did not want their child in a school.
Based on numerous communications that we have received since the start of school, we know that there are additional parents who, no matter what plan is brought forward for in-person instruction, do not want to send their children back to a school building.
We want to assure our parents that sending out this message was not done to make anyone feel pressured into making a decision. It is important to note, any parent who opts in to the Virtual Learning Program at this time would not move to the program until the District made the move to some form of in-person instruction. In short, completing the form now does not mean that your child will move into the VLP tomorrow.
We all know that the ultimate goal is to safely return students and staff to the classroom. At the same time, we all know that this is not going to be an easy process. We simply cannot turn a switch and have everyone show up at school. Dozens of people have been spending many hours working through all of the details that are part of any plan to bring students back. There is no one solution that is going to please everyone, but there are solutions that will provide students with instruction in a safe learning environment. The plan that is ultimately decided upon by our Board of Education will most likely look different than other districts but, at the same time, will have many similarities to other districts when it comes to health and safety. This is because each district has its own unique challenges, but all schools have the same goal to provide students with the best possible educational experience.
The Board of Education has scheduled a public meeting for Monday, October 26th at 7 p.m at the Administrative Service Center, 18700, Audette. State legislation passed just days before the start of the school year requires the Board of Education to approve a plan for learning every thirty days. The October 26th meeting will be an opportunity for the Board to review a plan that will provide a safe start back to school. The Board may choose to vote on a plan for the weeks ahead or they may decide that current health conditions in the state, county and city would prevent a safe start and therefore wait until November. No matter what occurs on the 26th, any plan that is approved will need to address all areas including transportation, food service, cleaning, and all of the logistical concerns of operating a 21,000 student school district. At the top of the list of any safe start back to school plan will be the safety of our staff and students.
Have a wonderful weekend!
Article from the First Bell:
The district Learning Lab Committee, school nurses, and administrators met Tuesday and decided that in-person learning labs will be inactive as of Wednesday, Oct. 21 for an indefinite time frame. This comes after concerning news from the Wayne County Health Department. Virtual learning labs will continue, and teachers can voluntarily continue to offer in-school learning labs for those students who wish to take part.
Wayne County Health Department reported the seven-day average positivity rate has climbed to 4.6 percent as of Tuesday, Oct. 20 and may be headed even higher. (The report excludes Detroit.) In addition, the COVID-19 infection rate within Dearborn is also increasing. Over the last week, the district has also seen an increase in the number of staff and students who were exposed to COVID-19 in the community, not in our schools.
The decision to make in-school learning labs inactive (except for those who volunteer to come in) was made to maintain a safe school environment and to continue to keep our schools from becoming a source of COVID-19 spread.
There have been no outbreaks in the Dearborn Public Schools since September 25. In total since August 1, only three of 29 reported student and staff cases can be tied to spread within the schools. All other cases involving students or staff on school grounds, the person apparently contracted the virus outside of the school environment. In addition, a recent report on athletic participation from Dearborn High and Fordson shows there were a total of 694 student athletes taking part in more than 2,690 hours of contact since August and only 14 cases of COVID-19, all but one coming from outside the school.
For now, the district will continue with high school PSAT tests scheduled for next Tuesday (Oct. 27) and Thursday (Oct. 29). Ninth through 11th graders voluntarily signed up to take those tests to evaluate their learning, get targeted assistance through Khan Academy, and as practice for eventually taking the SAT college entrance exam.
The Dearborn Public Schools has set up a special COVID-19 web-page. Please visit
Here is an article from the First Bell newsletter summarizing the Board of Education’s decision at their meeting this past Monday:
Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education voted Monday night (Oct. 12) to extend online learning into November, but set another meeting for Oct 26 to reevaluate conditions.
The approved motion also called for continuing and expanding in-school learning labs where, under current conditions, up to three students at a time come in and meet with teachers. If local COVID conditions stay favorable, those groups will expand up to six students. Learning labs for some special education students started last month and then expanded to every school last week.
Trustees voted 6-1 in favor of the measure. Only Trustee Jim Thorpe dissented, expressing that the district was ready to slowly start bringing students back. Since the September meeting, the average COVID test positivity rate for outer Wayne County has fallen below 5 percent and the average daily cases in Dearborn have declined significantly.
District administration had recommended starting to bring elementary students back in a split model where half of students would be at school at one time. Three options were presented for student attendance including every other day, half days every day, or a shortened day every other day. In each case, students not at school would have done asynchronous work at home. More information about each option is available in the presentation to the board.
The plan included options for starting with preschool through third grade or preschool through fifth grade. Siblings at the same school would attend at the same time.
In all three options, elementary students would have stayed mostly in their classrooms with any special teachers like art or music coming to them. Desks and other touch points would have needed to be sanitized every four hours, or between groups of students.
Maysam Alie-Bazzi, Executive Director of Staff and Student Services and a co-chair of the district’s reopen committee, made the presentation. She also touched on options for starting to return middle and high school students, although probably not until after elementary schools restarted. Secondary students are more difficult to bring back because of the number of students in the buildings and the need to have them switch classes. Each class change will mean students mixing in the hall and the state requirement to wipe every desk. Options for middle and high school include “Zoom in the room” where teachers would simultaneously teach students in the classroom and online.
Monday’s meeting stretched more than five hours, past midnight, as trustees discussed the plans and heard more than 50 public comments submitted online and by residents at the meeting.
Information presented also stressed that students and staff would be expected to wear face masks while at school. Bazzi also told trustees that the district would need two or three weeks to finalize and launch any blended learning model the board adopts. The time would be used to group students, figure out busing, finalize cleaning routines, create teacher schedules, adjust the school meal programs, communicate the changes to parents, and more.
Parents who were not comfortable returning their child to school could ask to have their child moved to the Virtual Learning Program by calling their child’s school and asking to be put on the waiting list. The program will teach students online all year, but elementary students would be required to switch teachers.
Bazzi also noted that entire schools would not close for one or two cases of COVID in the building. Referencing the district’s COVID flyer, she said the district would start by requiring close contacts to quarantine, which might mean whole classrooms temporarily return to online learning. Entire schools would only close if that was the recommendation of the Wayne County Health Department.
Administration had targeted restarting with the youngest students because they struggle the most with online learning. It also is easier in elementary school to follow safety protocols like better social distancing and not allowing different groups of students mix.
“We know online learning is the most difficult for our youngest students and their parents,” said Superintendent Glenn Maleyko. “We continue to work towards the day we can start to bring our students slowly and safely back to school.”
If you have any questions about the decision, please call the Whitmore-Bolles office at 313-827-6800 and we will do our best to help you.
The district has placed a wealth of information on the Back to School page of their website. This page is well worth spending some time on and may answer many of your questions. Even as an employee, I’ve learned a lot just skimming through the page links!
Included on this page is a Student Online Learning Handbook for the 2020-21 school year. One piece of information from the handbook that you’ll want to make note of is the creation of a Help Desk line for parents. If you are having login difficulties, Chromebook issues or any other type of technical issues please call 313-827-8400. You can also email them at firstname.lastname@example.org .
For questions about content, scheduled Zoom meetings, etc. you should still contact your child’s teacher.
We are off for the holiday weekend, but if you have any questions you can call the school office at 313-827-6800 on Tuesday between 8:00 and 4:30.
If you have a valid email on file in Parent Connect, you will be receiving a welcome email from your child’s teacher this afternoon or early evening (by 9PM.) The email will provide their blog and email addresses, along with other introductory information.
If you do not receive an email today, please visit Parent Connect to verify that you have an email address on file. Please email email@example.com to let me know if you have added/corrected your email address and I will send the letter out to you, probably on Sunday.
You should also be receiving a phone call from your child’s teacher today or Saturday to set up an orientation appointment for next week. At the virtual or face to face appointment, they will give you and your child an overview of Schoology, the software that is the umbrella under which all of our virtual learning will be taught. They will also distribute chromebooks to every student that needs one, as well as math and language arts workbooks.
Trust me, we know how anxious parents and students are for information. We definitely empathize. We just wanted to make sure our information was as accurate as possible before we passed it along to you, especially when identifying your child’s teacher. From this point forward, the information flow should be much more steady.
Please call us at 313-827-8700 if you have any questions. Take care.
Hello Whitmore families. Below is a link to the information packed welcome back letter from Mrs. Waddell that we emailed out on Wednesday, 8/26. If you did not receive the letter, please check that you have a valid email address on file with us. (Parent Connect is not available today (8/28) due to district updates, but will be back available to parents Saturday morning.)
If you have any questions after reading the letter, please call the office at 313-827-6800 between 8:00 – 3:00 pm this week. Next week we will be in from 8:00-4:30.
Hello Whitmore-Bolles families and welcome to the 2020-21 school year! The office is now open daily and our hours will be 8-3 until the first day of school. On August 31 we should be resuming our regular hours of 8-4:30 (subject to change).
We are currently working on class lists. Due to circumstances this year, we will be emailing parents next week to let them know what teacher their students will have, a welcome back letter from Principal Waddell and other start of school info.
Please do the following by Wednesday, August 26 to be sure you receive the information:
- Log in to Parent Connect for each child
- Update your emergency contact card information
- Enter a valid email address for at least one parent if there is not one already on file
We are not able to let you know who your child’s teacher is by phone or any method other than the Welcome Back Email, so it is very important that we have your email contact information on time.
If you have other questions about the upcoming school year, we will be happy to try to answer them. Some information may not be available yet, but we are doing our best to answer parent questions as we approach this unique school year. The office phone # is 313-827-6800.