Hazel Park Public Schools begins return to in-person learning

Schedule details which groups will return and when

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published January 25, 2021

 Hazel Park Public Schools are preparing to return to in-person learning.

Hazel Park Public Schools are preparing to return to in-person learning.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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HAZEL PARK — The Hazel Park Public Schools Board of Education has voted to phase in a return to face-to-face learning, beginning Feb. 1.

The board also voted to go ahead with the winter sports seasons, as sponsored by the Michigan High School Athletic Association, at Hazel Park High and Hazel Park Junior High.

“We were in session back in November, and our daily rate of (Michigan coronavirus case) numbers are lower now than they were in November. Our plan has been vetted and approved by the Oakland County Health Department, and our governor is encouraging us to be all back in school,” said Hazel Park Superintendent Amy Kruppe.

“There is no right answer, and no easy one,” she added. “But our kids are also struggling learning at home — socially, emotionally and academically. So there’s a balance. And there’s still a choice for parents to not bring back their kids, and to continue learning virtually.”  

The decisions were made at the board’s regular meeting Jan. 11. The vote to begin returning to in-person learning was 5 to 2. The trustees voting in approval were Laura Adkins, Rachel Noth, Beverly Hinton, Melissa Baldwin and Kristy Schlak. The dissenting votes were Heidi Fortress and Dawn Rice. Rice, in an email said, “As a board we are charged with the safety of our students and staff. Although the data supports that the students are relatively safe, it also shows that adults are at a higher risk. With the new strain of Covid discovered recently in Michigan, I just feel the risk too high at this time.”

 No vote was needed for winter sports since no cancellations were made.

“I hope eventually we’ll go five days a week, but this eases children in, eases parents in,” Kruppe said. “Hopefully, everyone will be able to get their vaccine soon enough, and we hope the numbers continue to go down.”


The schedule
The dates of return vary by grade and school. Special education programs will return alongside their respective grade levels. Paraprofessionals will return to their programs as they reopen.

The district conducts a deep clean of the facilities on the days when students learn from home. Here’s the schedule of who’s returning each week — note there is no school the week of Feb. 15 due to midwinter break.
    
Week of Feb. 1:     
• Early childhood program students at the Webster Early Childhood Center, except Friday — just a four-day week.
• Sixth graders at Hazel Park Junior High. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-2 at the elementary schools. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-5 at Edison School. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Students at Jardon Vocational School. Learn from home on Friday.
• K-8 at the SXI Center. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Grades 3-8 at Hazel Park Advantage Alternative School. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• English language learners and high school special ed pods, as approved.
    
Week of Feb. 8:
• All early childhood students at Webster, except for Friday — just a four-day week.
• Grades 6-8 at Hazel Park Junior High. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-5 at the elementary schools. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-8 at Edison. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Students at Jardon. Learn from home on Friday.
• K-26 at SXI Center. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Grades 3-8 at Advantage. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• English language learners and high school special ed pods, as approved.
    
Week of Feb. 22:
• All early childhood students at Webster, except for Friday — just a four-day week.
• Grades 6-8 at Hazel Park Junior High. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-5 at the elementary schools. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Kindergarten through post-high school at Edison. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Students at Jardon. Learn from home on Friday.
• K-26 at SXI Center. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Grades 3-12 at Advantage. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• English language learners and high school special ed pods, as approved.

Week of March 1:
• All early childhood students at Webster, except for Friday — just a four-day week.
• Grades 6-8 at Hazel Park Junior High. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• K-5 at the elementary schools. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Kindergarten through post-high school at Edison. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Students at Jardon. Learn from home on Friday.
• K-26 at the SXI Center. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Grades 3-12 at Advantage. Learn from home on Wednesday.
• Grades 9-12 at Hazel Park High School. Remote learning dates to be determined.


Cautious approach
Students in the Hazel Park Public Schools have been remote at different times since March 2020, when the pandemic first took off. The district’s elementary schools were able to resume for four to six weeks in the fall before staffing numbers became a concern.

“Our staff were getting ill, and we could not cover the classroom,” Kruppe said. “When we were in session, our elementary teachers and self-contained special education teachers were amazing. They worked together to help the students understand new practices and procedures in the classroom that keep them safe.

“We know that many of our students are ready to come back to school,” Kruppe said. “It does not matter how good your internet connection is — we all have trouble, and the lack of social interaction in the school environment is so very difficult on our students.”

She commended the creative ways her staff have adapted, including physical education teachers providing remote instruction for exercising at home, and art teachers developing lessons that translate well across the virtual space.

“The care and compassion that has been given to reach our students has been nothing short of breathtaking,” Kruppe said.

She said that the gradual return to in-person learning is being done with care, following the guidance of officials at the county and state. Special cameras will check the temperature of students and staff at the front of each building; new cleaning protocols are in place; and masks and other personal protection equipment are provided to students and staff.

“The community has been amazing making beautiful cloth masks for all ages,” Kruppe said. “This makes wearing masks so much easier when they are made with such love.”

A committee of more than 40 people has been meeting since last March, making adjustments to the district’s learning approach amid the pandemic.

David Muylaert, the district’s athletic director, said in an email that volleyball will be the only winter sport allowed at the junior high school this winter.

Otherwise, throughout the rest of the district, “All of the MHSAA sponsored winter sports … Hazel Park will take part in,” Muylaert said, including boys and girls basketball, swimming, competitive cheer, bowling, wrestling and dance.

Kruppe said it’s difficult to predict the future and say with any certainty how the school year will play out during what will, hopefully, be the world’s final push against the pandemic.

“We will continue to be forward thinking and follow the best practices,” Kruppe said. “We hope that we will be able to see a change when vaccines are plentiful enough that our staff are able to get them. However, unfortunately, until that time, we do not know the outcome of moving forward. We do know that we need to be educating our students in person, as much as we can in a safe environment using the CDC and health departments’ guidelines. I do believe we will continue to see school districts have multiple options in the near future while further research continues.”

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