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!