Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Chris Delgado said the morale has been “really high” since the beginning of the school term.

Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Chris Delgado said the morale has been “really high” since the beginning of the school term.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Farmington Public Schools superintendent evaluates the beginning of a new school term

By: Mark Vest | Farmington Press | Published September 22, 2021


FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Farmington Public Schools Superintendent Chris Delgado recently said it has been a “wonderful beginning to the school year.”

For the first time since 2019, the district started in-person, and Delgado has been pleased with how things have been going thus far.

“The morale is really high,” he said. “The children and the teachers were really excited to see each other. It’s nice for them to be back in person, and we know that’s the best option for kids.”

Prior to the beginning of the school term, Oakland County health officials ordered masks be worn by all children and staff in schools and day care centers.

However, even before that, Delgado had made an announcement that Farmington Public Schools was going to “begin the school year with universal masking, based on Oakland County transmission rate levels.”

“We decided collectively in the district (to) implement a universal mask requirement for all students, staff and personnel inside buildings when the county transmission color was red or orange, which is recommended by the CDC,” he said. “We actually preceded Oakland County in making that declaration, with the hope that as a school community, as a broader community, we can get the COVID rates down.”

With students being back full time, five days a week, Delgado said, “We’ve relaxed that 6-foot requirement of social distancing.”

“Really, the major mitigation protocols is mask wearing and hygienic practices. So that, coupled with our HVAC systems and air purifiers in every classroom, we’re continuing many of those layered mitigation strategies from last year,” Delgado said.

Farmington Public Schools is still offering virtual learning for families, which is an option Delgado said “just under” 500 students have selected.

Despite that option still being available, the early portion of this school term looks a lot different than last year.

“Farmington, like many districts, followed the rollercoaster of mandates and requirements of mandatory online schooling, and then coming back to some form (of) in-person learning in hybrid fashion or in full-time fashion,” Delgado said. “And so, there were many manifestations of what school looked like last year in many, many districts. This year it’s full-day, five days a week. … That’s what people were hoping for and looking for, some sense (of) normalcy.”

Delgado has noticed the difference it has made.

“The energy in the building feels like school,” he said. “It feels normal; it feels happy and positive. There’s nothing like a human connection, and that is what people were yearning for. We’re doing it safely, and two weeks in, we’re hitting our stride in the school year.”

Rosheen Hunter is a fifth grade teacher at Wood Creek Elementary School in Farmington Hills.

For as well as she thinks things have been going for both students and teachers since returning to school, the adjustment has been challenging for some.

“Probably six or seven of my students out of the 20 that I have, for 18 months they have not been in a school building because they had gone virtual,” Hunter said. “A lot of our kids are coming in with some anxiety. Some kids, I feel like they’ve lost a little bit of how to do school, so it’s been a lot of reminders; refreshing the kids on how things are going — routines, procedures. But I think overall there’s a consensus that the kids are very happy to be back.”

With all of the isolation that students have experienced since the beginning of the pandemic, Delgado thinks there is an increased appreciation for actually being able to attend school.

“I think we saw the impact of the social-emotional wellness, and the mental health challenges many of our students and staff had during the pandemic, and during this isolation — that lack of feeling of being connected to school, the energy that school brings, and those relationships,” he said. “It’s really important for people to be back. … I can tell you as a parent myself, as well as parents all around the country doing home-schooling with our kids, parents are appreciative that students are back as well, to get that quality teaching.”

The appreciation students have for being back in school has also not been lost on Hunter.

“This year has been a great start because I get to see the kids every day, and there’s, like, an excitement around the building,” she said. “You hear kids around the school, and that’s what school’s about; you hear the buzzing of kids. … They feel as much as possible that they’re back to normal, except everybody’s wearing a mask. … It really feels good to be back.”

Despite all the drawbacks that have resulted from the pandemic, from Delgado’s perspective, there has been a bright spot as well.

“The silver lining in living through this pandemic from an educational lens is that we increased our skill-set and became much more proficient in not only online teaching and learning, but finding efficiency of scale in meetings (and) finding more flexibility for peer participation in meetings; parent-teacher conference rates increased,” he said. “Moving forward, I think it’s finding that blend of a flexible school model as well as maintaining that traditional connection that we know is so powerful. But I think educators everywhere are agreeing that there were some positive aspects of how we do business in a school setting.”

After working as the deputy superintendent for the Walled Lake Consolidated School District for the last 10 years, Delgado began his current role with Farmington Public Schools in July.

He discussed his primary goals for the district.

“At my interview, I laid out a 90-day plan that I’m just about finished with already, and a lot (of) that included forming relationships with community members (and) analyzing all of our academics when we look at our math and literary scores,” Delgado said. “It’s meeting with all of our union officials, with contracted services officials, and trying to get the lay of the land in Farmington to have those relationships formed and look at the systems we have in place to move our primary goal, which is quality teaching and learning forward.”

The reception Delgado has received from the FPS community since coming aboard earlier this summer has not gone unrecognized.

“I really appreciate the very, very warm welcome that I’ve received from the community — both the school community and the community abroad,” he said.

Delgado said that the Farmington and Farmington Hills communities support the schools, each other and families.

“It reinforces why I wanted to join this district,” he said.