Michigan Schools Consider Re-Opening Options For Fall, Including On-Off Days

WWJ News
May 18, 2020 - 8:35 am
Detroit Schools First Day Bus

(Photo: WWJ/Vickie Thomas)

(WWJ) Could an on-off school schedule prevent a massive spread of coronavirus this fall?

That's the way some educators are leaning as schools work with public health officials and the governor's office to develop a plan for the reopening of classrooms -- or at least learning -- this fall.

Case number trends will be one of the factors in whether Michigan schools will reopen at all this fall. The governor has been open about discussing "the dial" ... As numbers go up, so do lock downs. As cases decrease, restrictions loosen. Schools will probably be part of that equation in the fall, experts say.

Randy Speck with the think tank the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching and former superintendent of the Madison Heights School District, says education leaders have to balance more than just teaching when classroom work resumes. 

"Schools still have operations to deal with, they've got academic concerns to deal with. They've got professional development and training that they have to think about, they've got student-family support that they have to deal with. All of those things still come into play."

And he predicts that regardless, the start of the new school year will see changes. Some options could include putting students in class a few days a week and at home a few days a week. Keeping half the kids at home would create room for social distancing in classrooms.

Traverse City Area Public School superintendent Jim Pavelka told Up North Live he thinks a hybrid between traditional and remote learning will happen this fall. The details are still uncertain, but he said,  "What I envision over the course of the next year is that we will have a hybrid situation in place, the easiest place to do that is at the secondary level."

He described the hybrid as kids being in class a couple of days a week and getting assignments and other work is done remotely from home. It could work to limit exposure to a possible second wave of COVID. Others, especially for youngers kids, envision a scenario where students go to class two or three days a week, or half days to switch out classrooms with other students and have cleanings between.

Speck said whatever they decide to do, schools need to be using this time to come up with it. "They have a chance to take a step back and be reflective and say 'What worked over the last several months?' We have to be ready for students in the fall, whether they're in our buildings or in their own kitchens."