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 Eastpointe Community Schools teachers are preparing for a fall semester in which they will have to teach students both in the classroom as well as online.

Eastpointe Community Schools teachers are preparing for a fall semester in which they will have to teach students both in the classroom as well as online.

Photo provided by Caitlyn Kienitz


Eastpointe to offer online options for students during the fall semester

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published July 17, 2020

 Eastpointe Community Schools will be offering online options for students at all grade levels for the fall semester in response to concerns regarding COVID-19.

Eastpointe Community Schools will be offering online options for students at all grade levels for the fall semester in response to concerns regarding COVID-19.

Photo provided by Caitlyn Kienitz

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EASTPOINTE — Eastpointe Community Schools is preparing to offer online learning options for students in its upcoming fall semester.

It is a step many school districts across the country have taken due to COVID-19. With some parents — as well as educators and health professionals — unsure if the danger will have passed by the time September rolls around, they are concerned about the health of their children.

“Throughout the last nine weeks of the school year, we did a lot of surveying of our families,” said Superintendent Ryan McLeod. “We found out that there are still some families that are still not comfortable sending their kids back in for face-to-face instruction. We decided a virtual option would be necessary and started looking into the best way to do so.”

While school districts such as Eastpointe had to pivot to online learning for the completion of the 2019-20 school year, preparing to do so for an entire semester is a huge challenge.

“(Our objective) with preparing for the fall has three models,” explained Assistant Superintendent Christina Gibson. “The hybrid face-to-face model is one. This would mean teachers planning their classes online so we can pivot from virtual learning to in-person learning as we need to. Our teachers who are teaching in person will be preparing a virtual lesson plan so they can switch to that if it becomes necessary. The second is the stand-alone K-12 virtual program that would mean a virtual class where the student’s learning would be entirely online that semester. The third model is regular in-person teaching.”

The online learning will be an extension of virtual secondary education programs the district already had in place.

“We are expanding our fully virtual secondary education program to all grade levels,” McLeod said. “Our teachers are putting the programs together. This is a new area, particularly at the elementary level, which we’ve never done anything like this before.”

The district is still weighing its options for how it will specifically implement the online learning program and how to still offer other non-classroom activities for students learning from home.

“Families should expect that we will be utilizing technology and will include some virtual face-to-face resources similar to Zoom meetings, either one-on-one or in a virtual classroom with a teacher and other students,” said McLeod. “Some hard copy materials might be provided through this program because some parents said there was an issue of stamina for students when using only virtual resources. What I think will be unique for Eastpointe Schools is that families still have some options for face-to-face programs with things such as band, sports or speech programs.”

“We will be using Google Classroom throughout the district,” added Gibson. “We will build out classroom templates so there is some continuity for parents and students. We also want to ensure the students have access to the more social aspects of school and we are making an effort to let parents know that students still have access to things such as clubs and athletics.”

Those interested in the online learning option can register their students for classes in the same manner they usually do.

“There’s information on the district’s website,” said Gibson. “Parents can indicate that a child wants to be a virtual student for the 2020-21 school year. It is the same way they would register as they regularly would; they just indicate they want the virtual option.”

Gibson said the district wishes it could return to normal but that isn’t something possible at the moment. She also said they are looking to take advantage of any potential grant money available.

“We would love to get back to 100% in-person teaching, but that’s just not realistic,” she said. “We have organized as much grant funding as we could. It is our goal to have computer access for each student in grades three to 12. We will make sure each of those students will have a device that they can take home. We are working on enlarging that to grades kindergarten through the second grade.”

Both said that the challenge is largely due to the fact that no one knows how things will look when it comes time for schools to reopen their doors.

“This is an unprecedented situation for schools, so we are preparing for a lot of unknowns,” said McLeod. “Since the governor has come out with her Safe Start Plan for schools, we still have to see what stage we will be in by the time our doors open. We are working hard this summer to ensure we are prepared for whatever comes in the fall.”

“We are trying to make sure we have all the advantages of virtual learning without sacrificing community,” added Gibson. “We want to ensure we are taking care of all aspects of their school experience in the district.”

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