Roosevelt Elementary School in Keego Harbor, along with other schools in the West Bloomfield School District, is participating in extended learning opportunities for students.

Roosevelt Elementary School in Keego Harbor, along with other schools in the West Bloomfield School District, is participating in extended learning opportunities for students.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Additional learning opportunities offered for West Bloomfield School District students

For next year: ‘Our plans are to be fully face-to-face five days a week like we had been prior to the pandemic’

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published May 26, 2021

 The West Bloomfield School District is offering extended learning opportunities for students through June 8. Pictured is an extended learning session at Doherty Elementary School.

The West Bloomfield School District is offering extended learning opportunities for students through June 8. Pictured is an extended learning session at Doherty Elementary School.

Photo provided by Scott Long

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — Students in the West Bloomfield School District have been given a chance to get some extra help prior to summer break. The Board of Education voted in favor of offering “extended learning opportunities” for students currently attending the half-day hybrid/cohort model.

The decision was unanimously approved at a May 7 board meeting.

The extended learning opportunities program started May 10 and is set to conclude June 8.

The extended learning sessions are offered for K-12 students on a voluntary basis and are staffed by certified teachers. However, transportation and meal service are not provided.

According to WBSD Superintendent Gerald Hill, new content isn’t introduced at the sessions; the primary aim is for students to receive additional help.

“We’ve been looking at doing something like this, but the COVID numbers haven’t been very conducive,” Hill said. “They’re coming down pretty quickly right now. Vaccination rates are up, so we decided to go ahead and pull the trigger on starting this. It’s sort of odd to start toward the end of the year, but it’s a time when a lot (of) students are trying to put that final push for improving their grades, increasing their learning.”

The schedules for the program can be unique to different schools in the district. Hill said that the “principals are working all that out with what works best for their school.”

“The principals are setting up a schedule that’s conducive to their school — about two hours and 20 minutes. They can have it all in one clump or two different sessions of extended learning opportunity time,” he said. “Academic support can be either enrichment or remedial. … Students will be able to sign up, or parents can sign their students up.”

At Roosevelt Elementary School, students in the a.m. cohort can attend session No. 1 8 a.m.-9:10 a.m., with session No. 2 scheduled for 12:20.-1:30 p.m. for those in the p.m. cohort.

“I think one of the primary benefits to offering our extended learning opportunities is to provide some additional in-person instruction to students,” Roosevelt Principal Ryan West stated in an email. “This year, my staff at Roosevelt has done an exceptional job providing high-quality blended learning to students. … With the current improvement with COVID numbers across Michigan and the changes in the CDC guidelines, we felt this was a great way to aid in a strong finish to the school year. … This will provide an opportunity for students to receive additional, individualized small-group instruction while still following all of the current protocols that (the) WBSD has in place to support student safety.”

Hill also shared his perspective about potential benefits that can come from offering the program.

“One is to give students more face-to-face support,” he said. “Sometimes if you’re struggling with a concept or an assignment, that extra face-to-face (time) will help out. The other one is, we’re looking at moving forward beyond this year, how this could be a potential model that we would employ on a more ongoing basis, where we’re giving academic support more formally to students. But we’re just trying this out to see how it works.”

Doherty Elementary Principal Scott Long said things have been going well with extended learning opportunities.

“We’ve had about 125 families take advantage of the opportunity, whether that’s in the morning, before school at 7:10, or after school, from 3:30 to 4:40,” Long said. “One of the things that’s been really neat about it is all the teachers that have stepped up to work together and collaborate with each other to help support and personalize student learning. It’s not uncommon to go into one of these classrooms and see one teacher working with a group of three kids and another teacher in the same room working with another group of three kids. What that allows us to do is meet kids where they’re at, whether they’re really excelling in their learning — meet them, challenge them, stretch their thinking, and give them more creative learning opportunities, or supporting a student that might be struggling with reading.”

From Long’s perspective, the extended learning opportunities can have a positive effect on multiple levels.

“For students, it’s going to give them an extra push into the summertime and help them finish the year strong,” he said. “For teachers, I think there’s potential impact of them learning and growing from each other, and for all of us, in terms of our school system, continuing to think about, how can we rethink education and do things differently, break the status quo to help achieve the effect we want, which is student success. … I’m pretty excited about what we’ve seen so far.”

According to West, there has been “great” feedback from parents about the extended learning opportunities.

“I continue to be impressed with how the Roosevelt and WBSD families have worked hand-in-hand with the school district to support students this year,” he stated. “At this point, we have over 60 students signed up for ELO sessions in the first two days. This demonstrates a commitment from the parents to support their students and do whatever they can to give them the best opportunity to finish the school year on a strong note.”

Hill shared a similar sentiment.

“It’s an opportunity for students to finish strong and leave with a positive feeling,” he said. “We are offering extended summer school opportunities, and there’s a strong interest in that. … A lot of it’s for either credit recovery or for extending enrichment, so we thought we’d try this, too, and give them another little boost here at the end of the year.”

Hill said the starting date for the 2021-2022 school term is Aug. 30., what he anticipates may be welcome news for parents and students alike.

“Our plans are to be fully face-to-face five days a week like we had been prior to the pandemic,” Hill said. “Of course, all of that’s contingent on the health department guidelines, but the way the vaccination process is going, and if we can keep the COVID numbers trending like they are right now in our area, I anticipate that, by August, we’ll be at a place where we can offer full-time, face-to-face.”

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