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Hillsdale Community Schools is monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Click to read more.

Superintendent Update 04.07.2020


Much has happened since our last Tuesday update.  All K-12 schools buildings have been closed for the rest of the year.  While the buildings have been closed, school is not over.  Hillsdale Community Schools will begin implementing a Distance Learning Plan for all enrolled students next week.  


Governor Whitmer has provided a structure for school districts to develop and implement Distance Learning Plans through the end of the school year.   Each school district will create a plan that meets a set of criteria established by the state. The governor’s executive order allows school districts to create a plan that fits the students’ needs using the resources available in that school district. 


In order to ensure that all students have access to materials and continue learning, Hillsdale Community Schools will implement a hybrid model.  The teachers will use instructional packets for the base of the program. They will also make the information and assignments available for students through Google Classroom.   Google Classroom is available online and uses website access format. In this format the content is filtered and controlled by the teacher.  


Distance learning will be much different than the usual school day experience.  We are excited to begin. The teachers and support staff are working this week to assemble the learning packets. The district will use a paper/pencil/books base for the program.  We will also use resources available online for enrichment and extensions. We are in the process of developing a distribution plan for the paper/pencil learning materials. This may include a combination of strategies including a pick up/drop off at the schools, remote pick up/drop off sites utilizing the bus routes, email exchanges, website resources and "virtual classrooms through Google.  


At the end of this week, the District will mail a letter to parents providing an overview of the Distance Learning Plan.  Hillsdale Community Schools will begin implementation of distance learning after Easter. The launch date for programming is scheduled for Tuesday, April 14th.  We understand this is a new experience for students, parents and the teachers. Going into this venture we know there will be challenges and adjustments needed as we learn which remote learning strategies work best for the students.  Teachers will provide direct communication and instructions for the students with the specific details of the learning activities for each class.  


High School Graduation: Graduating from high school is an important milestone.  Our District is committed to providing our seniors with a graduation ceremony and experience.  At this time, we are keeping the original schedule reserved on the calendar. If conditions do not allow us to conduct this ceremony in its typical format, we will provide our students and their families another type of ceremony.  The high school staff is working through a variety of options. As more time passes, we will know better which options are feasible. So, while it could look different from any other graduation ceremony previously conducted, “the show will go on!”  


Like everyone across our state and the entire country, the past month has felt surreal here is Hillsdale..  The staff at Hillsdale Community Schools have missed the students tremendously. Teachers have been sending out ideas for learning and enrichment activities for families.  Staff members across the district have worked to assemble and distribute meals to kids across the community. In the past three weeks, the HCS has provided over 15,000 meals to children.  That's amazing; the teachers, support staff and administrators who work at Hillsdale Community Schools really care about these children and their families! 


End of Update, Shawn Vondra



Update from Superintendent Vondra

March 31, 2020

This week is the District’s officially scheduled Spring Break.  The weather forecast looks to be improving, at least in terms of warming temperatures.  Patches of grass are turning green and the daffodils and tulips are beginning to emerge from their winter hibernation.  Each year, this week on the calendar marks a transition for school children as well as nature. In most (normal) years, Spring Break aligns closely with the start of the fourth and final quarter of the school year.  This year’s Spring Break signifies something new altogether. And while it is new and different, we are all in this together!


Return to School Date: Recently, the governor has made reference to keeping all K-12 schools across the state of Michigan closed for the remainder of the school year.  Governor Whitmer’s comments trigger us to think about many “what if...” scenarios. With the increase of COVID-19 cases through Michigan, this outcome seems more plausible every day.  Having said that, school districts have not received any new notifications from the governor or the Michigan Department of Education. In the initial school closure, the school administrators heard the  announcement at the same time as the rest of the public. The school district will be in contact with the families when we are notified of any changes to “return to school date.”  


Distance Learning: Distance learning can be described as learning that is taking place when there is a physical distance or separation between the student and his/her teacher and peers.  With the possibility of not reopening schools, Hillsdale Community Schools has been brainstorming and working on alternate plans for instruction through distance-learning strategies.   Should this come to be, our teachers, support staff, administrators will work with families to provide educational opportunities through distance learning plans. Our district has the capacity to accomplish this through a combination of paper/pencil learning packets/books and technology devices.  We know that reliable WIFI access is available for many of our students, but not all. We also know that students are not all the same. So, having options available to our students is important.  


Take Out Meals Program: As of today, the food service program has served over 15,000 meals (7,657 breakfast meals and 7,650 lunch meals).  The number of meals provided has increased with each service day. The next day for service is Friday, April 2, 2020.  It is clear, this program has met a critical need in our community. The scheduled meal service plan will continue on Tuesdays and Fridays, from 12:00-3:00 PM at Hillsdale High School (gym) parking lot, until further notice.    


With the weather improving, the coming days will be a great opportunity to get outside and go for a walk.  This can be a great time to talk to one another without a newscast or social media posts in the background.  


March 24, 2020 

Yesterday, Governor Whittmer extended the mandatory school closure time period.  All K-12 schools in the state will remain closed until at least April 14th.  Michigan residents have been ordered to "stay home" for the next three weeks.  There are specific jobs and businesses that can remain open and available to provide essential/critical services.  


Take Out Meals Program: As food service is recognized as a critical need area, the District will continue to implement the Take Out Meals Program on Tuesday and Friday until further notice.  The pick up time is 12:00-3:00 PM on each of these days at the Hillsdale High School parking lot next to the gym.  Children 18 years old or younger are eligible.    


We know how much of a need this is in our community.  Last week alone, 4,752 meals were prepared and served through this program. Our Food Service Director, Laura Call has done a remarkable job coordinating the setup plan, ordering food from multiple sources and ensuring that all of the important food safety guidelines are in place for everyone.  Our cooks in the food service department are so good! They know exactly what is needed and the best ways to get it done.  Teachers, educational aids, bus drivers, custodians, maintenance staff, cooks, secretaries, counselors, administrators, school board members and immediate family members of each of these groups have all helped to make things happen.  The effort by everyone involved has been nothing short of remarkable!    


Access to the School Buildings: CHANGE - Unlike the previous week, our district will now be implementing a "Do not access the school policy" during the statewide “Stay Home” order issued by the governor's office.  During this time, the principals, teachers and other other staff members have been directed to not come into the school.  These people will do their very best to monitor and provide information and assistance through email.    


Teachers Communicating with Students: Teachers will continue with the Tuesday Updates.  Our goal is to provide students and their families with ideas to keep folks cognitively engaged during this time.  The intent is to provide the “just right” amount of correspondence and ideas.  If parents would like more ideas and activities for their children, then by all means please send an email directly to your child’s teacher; our staff will be happy to help you with those additional resources.  A directory of teachers’ email addresses has been added to the District’s main website page in the News section.  Click on the picture of the envelope with the @ sign at the top and the hornet logo in the middle.   


Email from Teachers/District:  All students and parents have accounts for the district’s student information management system.   This system is called PowerSchool.  This is where phone numbers and emails are stored.  If you are not receiving the Tuesday Updates from your child’s teacher(s) or the District, it is likely because information updates are needed.  You may update the contact information in the system on your own.  Or, if you prefer help with updating the PowerSchool account, please contact the administrator of your child’s school through email that includes the current information.      

    Bailey Early Childhood Center: Shelley Ellis - 

    Gier Elementary School: Laurie VanOrman - 

    Davis Middle School: Barbara Wheeler -

    Hillsdale High/Horizon High School: Amy Goldsmith - 


Mental and Emotional Health: The school district has a team of highly skilled counselors to support the social and emotional needs of our children.  Mrs. Julie North (Davis Middle School) has created a short video message for valuable points of consideration.  Click on the link below to hear these positive ideas and suggestions.


The link below has been reviewed by Mr. Baker (Davis Middle School). It is from the American Psychological Association, the content on this page focuses on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy as the principles of social distancing are implemented.


If you have a question or need for support from one of school counselors, you may contact them by email at the following addresses:

     Gier Elementary School: Ellie Tucker - 

     Davis Middle School: Julie North -   

     Davis Middle School: Jarod Baker -  

     Hillsdale High/Horizon High School: Karen Rozelle - 

     Hillsdale High/Horizon High School: Sue Postle - 

     Hillsdale High/Horizon High School: Michelle Milnes - 


Physical Health: Physical activity is an important component in our daily lives.  Physical activity is also an effective strategy for helping many people deal with stress.  Physical education classes are built into children’s schedules throughout school.  With the closures and the “stay home” directives and the unpredictable weather in Michigan, it can be pretty easy to become a couch potato!  It's amazing how one good choice leads to another!  In that spirit, see if you can encourage a member of your family to participate in some intentional physical activity. 


Return to School Date: CHANGE - In Governor Whitmer's update on Monday, it was confirmed that all K-12 schools in the state are to remain closed until “at least” April 13th.     


End of Update


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Update from Superintendent Vondra


Take Out Meals Program: In order to help families into the transition of no school, the district has created a  “take out” meals program. Prepared meals are available for children ages 18 and under. The pickup days will be on Tuesday and Friday from 12:00 Noon - 3:00 PM at Hillsdale High School.  Please follow the signs to enter the school parking lot from Bacon Street. On Tuesday, you can pick up 6 meals for each child. That will provide food for Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Then on Friday, we plan to package up 8 meals for each child.


To help us plan for the number of children who will use this service we have created a dedicated voicemail account and a dedicated email address.  You may either call or send an email. Please choose one method. The phone number to call is a local number 517-689-1406. Or you can send an email to  Please provide your name and number of children participating. We ask that you make the call or send the email by 10 AM the day prior to each serving day. 


Contacting A School Office (Principal or Secretary): The school buildings are closed during this mandatory shutdown.  The school principals, secretaries and teachers are monitoring email and voicemails.  Please use one of those methods to communicate with the school staff.


Contacting A Teacher: Our teachers are monitoring email and voicemails.  Please use one of those methods to communicate with your child’s teacher.


Homework During The School Closure:  Teachers are providing suggestions for students to support their continued learning at home.   Much like basketball players who spend extra time working on their own to improve shooting or dribbling skills, students who spend time on learning activities will certainly benefit from those efforts.  Reading books, studying content even without an assignment, playing games that challenge our brains to solve problems and compute mathematically are all great ways to keep your mind stimulated and growing!


Student’s Grades:  All students are responsible for academic work that was assigned on/before March 13, 2020.  Each student’s grades will reflect performance on those assignments/quizzes/tests. From March 16 forward, until further notice, all grades are “paused.”  


High School (specific) Grades/Credits: The length of the school closure will have a tremendous impact on how grades and credits are determined for both the 3rd and 4th marking periods.  If we return to school on Monday, April 6th, there will still be ample time to complete the final week of the 3rd marking period and conduct a proper 4th quarter.  In the event the school closure extends beyond that timeframe, we will have to reassess the situation and respond to the conditions at that time.


High School Seniors: Seniors have some characteristics which are different from all of the other grade levels.  These students need to complete their high school programming and earn their diploma credential.  They have jobs, training programs, college or military service plans. We are working to develop contingency plans for the Class of 2020 accounting for these important transitions into the next phase of their lives.  We will forward that information on to everyone when it is finalized. 


High School Juniors: We anticipate the Michigan Department of Education will provide guidance on the SAT testing program in the near future.  We will forward that information on to everyone when it becomes available. At this time, students are encouraged to use the Khan Academy resources to help them further prepare.  This is available free online at  


Will the School Year Be Extended?: Maybe, we don’t know yet. The length of the school closure will surely have the largest impact on such a decision.  At this time, I think it wise for students, families and school staff to be considering that as a possible outcome. Much like during a bad winter with many school closures, it is reasonable to expect that the longer schools are closed, the likelihood will increase for extending the school year.  We anticipate the Michigan Department of Education will provide guidance on this topic. We will forward that information on to everyone when it becomes available.   


Postponed/Canceled Events: All events planned before April 6, 2020 have been postponed/canceled.  Moving forward, if the school closure is extended, the events/activities during that same amount of time will also be postponed/canceled.  Not all canceled events will be rescheduled. Our school district will review each of the events canceled due to the coronavirus closures and determine the feasibility of rescheduling.  Those decisions will not be made until we are cleared to reopen the schools. 


March 13, 2020

Dear Parents and Students of Hillsdale Community Schools,

In an attempt to slow the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Whitmer has ordered the mandatory closure of all K-12 schools throughout the state, effective Monday, March 16 until Monday, April 6, 2020.  This is an unexpected closure of the schools for two weeks prior to our scheduled Spring Break of March 30th - April 3rd.  Based on this statewide plan, we are scheduled to resume normal school days on Monday, April 6th.    

We are in uncharted territory and it is understandable to experience a variety of emotions including confusion, fear and anxiety.  By using the recommended actions to help prevent the spread of viruses, each of us can contribute to the most positive outcome possible.  These strategies are:

  1. Learn about the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. 
  2. If you have respiratory symptoms, STAY HOME WHEN YOU ARE SICK. Call your health care provider’s office in advance of your visit. 
  3. Regularly clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces, like doorknobs, keyboards, cell phones, and light switches. 
  4. Communicate and reinforce best practices for washing hands and covering coughs and sneezes. 
  5. Be prepared if there is COVID-19 in your household or there is a disruption of daily activities in the community. For example, maintain a supply of medications, food, and other essentials in your house. Consider alternative shopping options such as curbside pickups or online deliveries. 
  6. Access services as much as possible online or by phone.

Our school district will stay in direct contact with the health professionals and update the district’s action plan as needed.  We will post updated information on our district website and our official social media outlets.  We will also use the automated calling system as needed for specific time sensitive updates.   

       Website Address - 

       Facebook Site – Hillsdale Community Schools

       Twitter Feed - @HillsdaleSchool

Resources for additional information on COVID-19 can be found at the following links:

School Offices: There will be staff at the school to conduct necessary work.  This includes office personnel.  This includes helping students and families with specific needs.  We encourage everyone to use email and phone calls as much as possible.  This will reduce the amount of personal contact necessary and it allows staff to respond to your needs in a timely manner.   Please avoid just, “stopping in” to the schools.  We are in a unique circumstance and our staff may have to complete work at non-standard times.  

School Work: Teachers put together some immediate activities for students.  These initial items vary by the class and grade level.  Our teachers will create additional activities and plans to support learning at home during the school closure period.  That information will be sent by email in the Tuesday Update.  Teachers have been using a couple of other forms of communication with their students and will continue to use these tools as well.

  • Hillsdale High School Classes = Google Classroom
  • Horizon High School Classes = Edgenuity
  • Davis Middle School Classes = Google Classroom
  • Gier Elementary School Classes = Classroom Dojo
  • Bailey Early Childhood Center Classes = Classroom Dojo

Updates are scheduled for release on Tuesday, March 17th & Tuesday, March 24th.  If your child needs a paper copy of the materials, please contact the school office by phone or email and a packet will be prepared for him/her.   

Athletic Teams: All practices and competitions are cancelled until further notice.

Extra-Curricular Clubs/Groups: All meetings and events for clubs are cancelled until further notice. 

Personal Items: Students were directed to take personal possessions home.  Should you discover a need for personal items that remained at school, you may contact your child’s school office by phone or email to arrange a time to pick up those items.

Medications: Please contact the school office by phone or email to arrange a time to pick up those items.

Lunch Program: The district has the capacity to provide lunches for students during the next two weeks.  We are developing a schedule for offering a lunch program for students.  It will most likely take the format of a “to go” lunch.  The specific details will be sent out in the Tuesday Update on March 17th.   

We are certainly living in interesting times.  If our school district can be of further assistance to your family during this time, please feel free to contact me by email at shawn.vondra@hillsdaleschools.  We appreciate every one of our students, parents, and staff for being creative and working through this unusual situation. 




Shawn Vondra



March 12, 2020

Hillsdale Community Schools is monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation through proven and trustworthy sources: our local health department, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At the present time, there are two confirmed cases in the State of Michigan, neither of those are in Hillsdale County. The health officials have assessed the risk to our school community has been and remains low at this time.   


We are working carefully to maintain a clean environment for our students and staff.  We clean the schools daily. Additionally, we utilize a Clorox 360 Cleaning Machine System to sanitize our school buildings and buses.  The cleaning solution used in this system treats coronavirus, along with multiple other viruses. This system sanitizes the surfaces in the space treated, including the undersides of things like desks, chairs, tables, toilet seats, etc.


As we are still in cold and flu season, we are encouraged to follow basic prevention guidelines against the flu and upper respiratory viruses which include avoiding contact with people who are sick and washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and using alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. 


We will continue to monitor this situation and provide additional updates as warranted.  Tomorrow morning, a county-wide meeting for all of the public schools is being held to review updated information and guidance from the Tri-County Health Department. Following the county-wide session, our principals from Bailey, Gier, Davis and HHS along with our directors of food service, bussing, athletics and maintenance will meet to review the current status and update the District's response plan according to the very latest information.


As we have all witnessed in recent days, this is a developing situation.  We will stay in direct contact with the health professionals and update our action plans as needed.  The district will post updated information on our district website and our official social media outlets.  We will also use the automated calling system as needed.