Students of all ages at Chandler Park Academy are returning to class with masks, social distancing and other measures in place to try and keep them safe amid the threat of COVID-19.

Students of all ages at Chandler Park Academy are returning to class with masks, social distancing and other measures in place to try and keep them safe amid the threat of COVID-19.

Photo provided by Updated Media

Harper Woods schools resume learning

By: Brendan Losinski | Advertiser Times | Published September 17, 2020

HARPER WOODS — Students in Harper Woods returned to classes Sept. 8; however, this year many are learning from home due to COVID-19.

Harper Woods Schools decided that it would make the most sense for all of its general education students to remain at home for classes for at least the first 90 days of the semester. It made an exception for its Career and Technical Education students.

“Students’ return is 100% virtual, for our general education program,” Superintendent Steven McGhee said in an email. “For our Career and Technical Education program, it mandates that students come into the building once a week per parents choice. Students and instructors must wear masks and practice social distancing (while they do).”

For students coming into the building, the district said it is following all the prescribed guidelines.

“Also note that restrooms are being cleaned every hour on the hour and all of our signage focuses on social distancing, wearing masks. The meal schedule is posted to the district website,” wrote McGhee.

Scheduling extracurricular activities and sports becomes difficult with the quarantine, but McGhee said the district is working to ensure its students still have as much access to the complete educational experience as possible.

“Extra curricular will be virtual,” he wrote. “Please note that the (Michigan High School Athletic Association) recently ruled that the fall sports will take place, and the district is following the CDC and the MHSAA requirements for Covid-19.”

He went on to say that their current learning format has been working well thus far and he is appreciative of parents who are going the extra mile to make it work.

“The first week went well, (there were the) traditional challenges in the first week such as adjusting to class schedules,” stated McGhee. “Parents are adjusting to our current situation. Please note that we are asking our parents to be teachers as well. We are providing continuous technical support as we move forward.”

Chandler Park Academy elected to give its families the option of returning either in person or learning remotely.

“We’re doing in-seat classes and also virtual classes as well,” said Diane Fisher, CEO of Education Enrichment Services and education provider for Chandler Park Academy. “This was based on parental choice. For us, knowing our school community and our needs, and knowing many of our parents are essential workers, we knew we needed to offer parents the opportunity to have their children (in school) if they couldn’t monitor them all day or (have) the means to have them learn from home.”

Fisher said that bringing students back into the building wouldn’t have been an option without strict adherence to health guidelines.

“All schools had to complete a return to school plan,” she explained. “The plan had many pieces that the governor’s team had to address and we followed that closely. It was reviewed by the board of directors and our charter institution, Saginaw Valley State University. We took steps to ensure the safety, hygiene and sanitation procedures for our students were followed.”

She went on to say that keeping a school disinfected and safe takes a lot of hard work.

“We rotate our teachers, we reduce class sizes, lunches are delivered to the classrooms instead of having them gather in a cafeteria. We do a deep clean every Friday and all of our students are learning from home on Fridays, so on Monday we can ensure the building is ready to welcome the students back. It’s all working very well so far. We’ve been able to continue supplying food to the community as well despite these extra challenges,” said Fisher. “We also have a strong district social and emotional team in place to help students and families know how to help them in this trying time.”

Chandler Park administrators were able to bring some of their fall sports back with additional safety measures in place.

“Football was reinstituted and have been allowed to practice and play their season,” said Fisher. “They still have to be masked and follow the state guidelines on that. Our first home game is coming up on Sept. 18 (after press time) and we’ll be following the guidelines for games as well so that everyone is safe. Our volleyball team and cross country teams are moving forward as well.”

However, many other extracurricular programs are far more difficult to keep socially distant.

“We’re reviewing our other clubs and organizations,” Fisher added. “Our school musical program is moving forward virtually. Our students in our Wayne County Community School District dual enrollment program are still involved in that and the program is still in place.”

She said that they have gotten positive feedback from parents, but that teaching in the time of COVID remains difficult.

“We’ve had no real parent pushback so I think they understand the challenges and are understanding of the measures we’ve taken,” said Fisher. “This has been challenging. It’s an unprecedented situation. We’re used to having 2,400 students coming in all at once and returning to classes. I miss that. However, given the times we’re in, we followed all of the procedures, we respected our safety measures and class size reductions. It’s been different, but I think it’s been successful so far.”