Lincoln Elementary students gather in the lunchroom area March 30. Van Dyke Public Schools opened up for in-person learning last month in a hybrid model.

Lincoln Elementary students gather in the lunchroom area March 30. Van Dyke Public Schools opened up for in-person learning last month in a hybrid model.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Continuing with classes during COVID-19

By: Maria Allard | Warren Weekly | Published April 2, 2021

 A prekindergarten Lincoln Elementary student stands on a floor marker indicating proper social distance.

A prekindergarten Lincoln Elementary student stands on a floor marker indicating proper social distance.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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WARREN/CENTER LINE/STERLING HEIGHTS — Something noticeable for Van Dyke Public Schools Superintendent Piper Bognar when students returned to in-person learning last month was how much they have grown since last year.

“They’ve grown so much,” Bognar said. “Even some of the high schoolers are already taller than me.”

After attending school 100% virtually since March 2020, about 30% of the district’s students returned to a customized hybrid schedule last month in March. With hybrid, students spend part of their time in class at school and the other part at home learning virtually.

Early in 2021, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set a goal for school districts to begin offering an option for in-person learning by March 1 or earlier if possible. School districts also must post positive COVID-19 cases, how many and at which schools on their websites daily.

Most Van Dyke hybrid students are attending in-person school half days on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Some students with special needs are coming to school more often and have been since the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year.

“It really is customized. It seems to be going very well,” Bognar said. “Our staff is so happy to see the students again. I do think our families are happy to be back while some are comfortable to do the virtual option.”

The district is making sure the schools are cleaned sufficiently by staff custodians. School officials also have offered support in various ways to help students with their mental health during these challenging times.

“They miss their friends. They would love for everything to be back to normal,” Bognar said. “They look around and realize a big change is going on. They’re doing their part. They’re following social distancing protocols and wearing their masks. Children understand what’s going on.”  

Van Dyke partnered with Henry Ford Health System to offer the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to staff members interested in receiving the shot.

Center Line Public Schools is continuing with its in-person hybrid program. Students also had the option of conducting their education 100% virtually from home. The Board of Education is expected to review the hybrid program at its April 26 board meeting.

Warren Consolidated Schools also is moving on with its hybrid program for families that selected it with students attending face-to-face school four mornings a week. District officials also offered a 100% virtual option.

All WCS students, including hybrid, will attend school remotely the week of April 12. That decision was made because of the increases in cases the past several weeks and the potential for spread of COVID-19 following spring break April 2-9. However, middle and high school students required to take the Pre-Scholastic Achievement Test or Scholastic Achievement Test will still come to school in-person that week for testing.  

In Fitzgerald Public Schools, about 30% of the middle and high school students are attending face-to-face learning four full days a week, with 40-50% of the elementary students attending school in person full time five days a week. The remaining students are attending class virtually 100%. Students in grades 6-12 are studying in a model in which the classes are livestreamed so virtually and in-person students can attend simultaneously. In an effort to avoid outbreaks, Fitzgerald staff has been diligent with cleaning the buildings. For example, touchpoints, such as doorknobs, are cleaned every four hours, and bus drivers are helping with cleaning schools.

“Our rooms are being sanitized with sprayers daily,” Superintendent Kimberly Pawlukiewicz said. “I feel our mitigation strategies are working.”

The elementary students have plexiglass shields at their desks for protections. Because the middle and high school students travel from class to class, they take their own personal plexiglass shields with them.

“I think staff has done a great job learning the new technology and making what’s best for our students,” Pawlukiewicz said. “We’re in a groove now.”

In Warren Woods Public Schools, approximately 57% of the district’s students are attending in-person learning, and 43% are attending virtually with Warren Woods teachers through Microsoft Teams and Schoology.

If the district is alerted regarding a positive COVID-19 case, either by a parent or the Macomb County Health Department, the Warren Woods administrative team launches an investigation. That involves interviewing the positive individual to determine areas of the building they were in, facilities they used including, restrooms, labs and buses, and people who they have been in close contact with 48 hours prior to symptoms or test date.  

Close contacts also are interviewed. Parents are notified, and those students are sent home for 10-day quarantine as determined by the Macomb County Health Department. Building rooms, facilities and buses are deep cleaned.

“Schools are cleaned frequently using a variety of approved products. Teachers and students use wipes on desks and supplies,” Superintendent Stacey Denewith-Fici said in an email. “Custodians and maintenance crews use sprays, wipes and electro-static sprayers to sanitize frequently touched surfaces. We are even using some of our bus drivers, when they are not driving during the day, to assist us in sanitizing frequent touchpoints like door handles, restrooms, etc.”

About 30% of the Warren Woods employees have been either partially or fully vaccinated. The district has partnered with the Macomb County Health Department and the Macomb Intermediate School District to make employees aware of available appointments. Warren Woods students will return to in-person learning following spring break, minus the students whose families have chosen for them to attend school 100% virtually.

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