Tuesday Update - 8-4-2020
There is a lot of information surrounding us each day about the coronavirus pandemic. Charts, graphs and news stories of all sorts. Each piece of information can be informative, but when it keeps coming at us day after day it can be quite overwhelming. Scientists and doctors are working throughout the world to develop treatments and support systems for those affected by the virus. In addition, there are ongoing efforts in the development of safety and prevention techniques. Our school system is taking this matter very seriously. One of the biggest challenges of this situation is that things keep changing. Below is a link to a Frequently Asked Questions page produced for school officials by the State of Michigan. The content is designed to provide clarification on matters that relate to school systems, including guidance for the schools’ reopening plans. We wanted to share this link with families so it can help with the direct flow of information. Knowing the requirements for which schools must operate can help to understand the protocols being implemented for students, parents and staff members at school.
August 3, 2020
Dear Hillsdale Community Schools Families,
The planning process for reopening schools is taking place throughout our state with many common protocols because these are required through executive order. These are obligations for school districts and shall be implemented. The required elements are described in the county-wide plan overview document that was previously distributed through a countywide ISD communication and redistributed to HCS families in a direct email, Facebook post and link on HCS website. (It is also attached again to this email.)
As you can see from the information document prepared by the superintendents group, the county-wide calendar for the 2020-21 school year has been changed. The first day of school across the county will now be Tuesday, September 8th. Please read the attached "2020-21 County-wide Calendar Update Announcement" for details about why this change is being made across the county.
This updated calendar should allow for the safety and cleaning supplies which are currently on back order to arrive at schools across the county. In addition, our district this time to help staff, students and families become better prepared for the upcoming school year. For example, instead of conducting the typical Open House events where many students and families visit the school at one time, each school will conduct smaller group sessions. These orientation events will include staff and teachers at each building and will provide the students and parents with information as well as time to conduct question/answer sessions. Customized sessions will be conducted for students/families who choose the Online School option.
Below is a calendar of events specific to Hillsdale Community Schools.
August 6 - Student Registration Cards Available
August 10 - School Offices ReOpen (M-F from 8:00-4:00)
August 17-21 - Teachers and Support Staff Work Days
August 21 - Deadline for Selecting the Online School Option
August 24-28 - Orientation Sessions for In-person Students - By Appointment
August 25-27 - Orientation Sessions for Online Students
September 8 - First Day of School for In-person Students @ School
September 8 - First Day of School for Online Students @ Home
Other 2020-21 Calendar Dates (These dates/events remain unchanged.)
November 2-27 - Thanksgiving Break
December 21-January 1 - Christmas Break
April 2-9 - Spring Break
May 31 - Memorial Day Holiday
TBA - Last Day of School
To develop the local reopening plan, a structure was created that includes a district-wide committee as well as school building and department (transportation, food service, custodial) specific committees. Each school has a unique building footprint, different ages of students, different staffing levels and unique characteristics for driveways and parking lots. All of these factors are being taken into consideration. Because there are different requirements in each of Michigan's COVID-19 Response phases, it's a fairly complicated process at each building. The building groups provide recommendations specific to that school. Each school has parents involved directly as members in the building committees. Parents/student input has also involved survey results, email exchanges, and direct conversations with staff members. This structure is helping to keep continuity to our overall district plan, and allow for unique adjustments at each school or department.
PHASE 3 - All school buildings are closed throughout the state. All students become Online Students.
PHASE 4 - Students may choose to be either Online Students or In-Person Students. Both types of students will remain Hornets.
Online Students: Students will be assigned to a Google Classroom with an HCS teacher. The lessons, assignments, and tests will be completed at home. The teacher will be available for Questions/Answer sessions at designated times for "live" help sessions. Parents will have access through PowerSchool and the Instructional Software to monitor student progress and grades.
In-person Students: The District will implement social distancing protocols as much as possible. This will include smaller class sizes in many cases. The District will also implement a staggered pick up/drop off schedule at each school. Students will begin arriving close to the start of the instructional day around 8 AM. The District will split up bus routes to allow for fewer children and more spacing on the buses. At the end of the school day, staggered pick up times will also be used to allow for more spacing.
PHASE 5 - When our geographic region moves to this phase, less social distancing will be needed. Wearing face masks will be optional for both students and staff. The schools will make adjustments to more typical procedures. If we are in the middle of an academic semester, the master schedule will likely remain through the end of that semester. Class offerings/program changes would be made/expanded at the start of the next semester.
Each school district’s Board of Education is required to provide the final approval for the district's 2020-21 plan. As the superintendent, it is my responsibility to coordinate the recommendations and submit a cohesive set of plans for the Board’s consideration. Our Board has an online (ZOOM) meeting scheduled for August 10th @ 6 PM to review the plan being developed for our district.
"Tuesday Updates" will be reinstated, starting tomorrow, August 4th and continue weekly until school resumes on September 8th. The update emails are distributed through the District's automated system and it uses the names/email addresses in PowerSchool to distribute these communications.