Board of Education to hear options for restarting school with blended learning

A student looks thoughtful while writing and looking at her reading book.

The Dearborn Public Schools Board of Education will decide on Monday (Oct. 12) if the local COVID conditions have improved enough to start reopening schools.

Until the board votes to reopen schools, students will continue learning remotely.

On Monday, school administration will make recommendations to the Board of Education regarding a plan to slowly and cautiously return students to the classroom in the weeks and months ahead.  Part of the recommendations will be to bring preschool to third grade or preschool to fifth grade students back to in-school instruction sometime in late October or early November. 

Class size and numbers in the school would be limited through a modified school day schedule that may include students attending every other day or every day for a half day.  The every other day schedule would include set days such as Monday and Wednesday for one group and Tuesday and Thursday for the other group with Fridays alternating between the two sets of students.  Students would continue to have asynchronous work to do during the days or parts of the school day they are not in the building.

Under either plan, busing would be provided, and masks would be required at all times on the buses.  Face masks also would be required in schools as well as following social distancing and other safety protocols.  

“While we are anxious to get students back in schools, we have to ensure we do so as safely as possible.  Returning with a blended model will allow us to teach students face-to-face while reducing the virus exposure for students and staff,” said Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko.

Administration also will discuss with the board plans to bring back sixth through 12th grade students also on a limited schedule.

The administration’s recommendations to the board will be based on input from the Reopen Committee, current health conditions in Dearborn and the county, and a goal of eventually returning students to in-school instruction. 

As required by the State of Michigan, the Dearborn Board of Education will vote to determine how instruction will look in the Dearborn Public Schools for the next month.  The board is required to reevaluate COVID conditions every month to see if in-school learning is feasible.

Currently, the Board of Education has directed that schools will operate remotely through at least the next Board meeting on Oct. 12.  Students this week (Oct. 5) started returning in very small groups for voluntary learning labs in the buildings as local COVID conditions have improved.

The Oct. 12 Board of Education meeting starts at 7 p.m. and will be shown live on the district’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and cable channels.  A limited number of public seats are available in the Board Room at the Administrative Services Center, 18700 Audette St.  A link to an online public comment form can also be found on the Board of Education page on the website.

At the September Board of Education meeting, trustees noted the Wayne County positivity rate was well over 5 percent, meaning that more than five percent of the COVID tests performed each day were coming back positive. The daily positivity rate for Wayne County outside of Detroit has now been below the critical 5 percent for more than two weeks. School officials also consider the number of new COVID cases being reported for Dearborn.  For all the criteria, the district is looking at recent averages, not day-to-day figures.

While many of Governor Whitmer’s executive orders were apparently invalidated last week by the courts, Dearborn Public Schools has the authority to require face masks when students, staff and others are at school facilities.

“Medical experts agree that wearing face masks greatly reduces the risk of COVID-19.  Failing to take this simple step will add unnecessary risk to our staff, students and families,” Dr. Maleyko said.  “We want our community to control the spread of this disease as much as possible so we can educate our students in school.  We encourage residents to continue to be vigilant about safety precautions, even outside of our schools.”