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Local school districts working virtually with students and families

By: Nick Mordowanec | C&G Newspapers | Published March 23, 2020

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FRASER/CLINTON TOWNSHIP — On March 12, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered the closure of all K-12 school buildings — public, private and boarding — starting March 16 and concluding April 5. At press time, school buildings are scheduled to reopen Monday, April 6. 

“This is a necessary step to protect our kids, our families, and our overall public health,” Whitmer said in a March 12 statement. “I am working with partners across state government to ensure educators, parents, and students have the support they need during this time, and to ensure our children who rely on school for meals have access to food.

“I know this will be a tough time, but we’re doing this to keep the most people we can safe. I urge everyone to make smart choices during this time and to do everything they can to protect themselves and their families.”

Fraser Public Schools Director of Communications Kristin Ledford said their district launched a COVID-19 preparedness and response page (www.fraser.k12.mi.us/covid-19_coronavirus) online Feb. 28. An extended online opportunities page (www.fraser.k12.mi.us/eolo), introduced by FPS Superintendent Carrie Wozniak, went live March 18.

All employees are being paid during the mandatory closure.

On March 13, the district organized and deployed more than 1,400 iPads to students in kindergarten, first and second grade.

“While these students have a dedicated device, we have not allowed students to take it home before this point,” Ledford said. “Our media technology assistants and 21st century coaches in each of our six elementary schools worked together to organize this massive deployment with little notice.”

Free meal distribution is also taking place out of Fraser High School, where parents can pick up breakfast and lunch between 9 a.m. and noon from the cafeteria. On March 16, 359 children benefited from the meals, which entailed 359 breakfasts and 359 lunches.

On March 17, that number increased to 425, and on March 18 and 19 it increased again to 450. Students do not need to be enrolled in FPS to receive meals, and there are no income requirements.

On March 23, meal distribution expanded between 10 and 11 a.m. at three additional sites: Salk Elementary, 17601 15 Mile Road in Clinton Township; Eisenhower Elementary, 31275 Eveningside in Fraser; and Twain Elementary, 30601 Calahan Road in Roseville.

On March 18, FPS hosted virtual professional development for all teachers — who began contacting students the week of March 16 through learning management systems already implemented, such as itsLearning for K-6 and BlackBoard for kids in grades seven through 12.

Wozniak said the district is leveraging technology during this time and is “focused on the social and emotional well-being of our students and our staff.” She added that assignments and activities may take three hours during the course of a day to complete for some students, but the school does not expect kids to “be online for six hours a day.”

Dr. Donna Anderson, assistant superintendent of curriculum and instruction, said the district has a “responsibility” to provide such extended learning opportunities to all students.

“As we continue to adjust to this ever-changing new reality, we must be patient, kind and flexible,” Wozniak said. “I want to reassure our parents that the Extended Online Learning Opportunities will look different for every family, and that is OK. We know every family is unique, and we want to be able to support each child’s learning as best we can.

“We are all under a lot of stress, and our EOLO is not meant to add more to anyone’s plate. We are empathetic and understanding that everyone is in a different place with home, work and family.”

Chuck Pleiness, administrative assistant at Clintondale Community Schools, said “the Clintondale community has really come together during this unprecedented time.” That has included communications via email, phone blasts, the district website and social media. Teachers are in contact with students via platforms like Remind, Google Classroom, Class Dojo and Schoology.

“It’s important to us that we maintain a personal connection with everyone right now,” he said March 19. “We’ve had great participation thus far in this very brand new time for everyone in education.”

The district is also helping families in need with its “Grab and Go” breakfast and lunch hours, from 9 to 11 a.m., at six locations: Parker Elementary, Rainbow Elementary, McGlinnen Elementary, Middle School Breakfast Entrance, Price Drive Continuing Education and Farmbrooke Manor Bus Stop.

The Macomb Intermediate School District issued multiple updates, on March 11, 13 and 16. The district said March 16 that all 21 county superintendents were continuing to collaborate regarding educational resources and providing free meals.

Suggestions to parents and caregivers were provided, including adults modeling to children that closures were not “summer vacation” but that an educational routine should be maintained — possibly aided by daily checklists and finding leisure time around work lessons. Resources include www.amazingeducationalresources.com and classroommagazines.scholastic.com/support/learnathome.html.

“During these unprecedented times, the leadership in our Macomb County school districts have been meeting to make decisions related to supports for our families in the county,” said MISD Superintendent Michael DeVault in a press release. “We are also in direct communication with the (Macomb) County executive’s staff, the governor’s staff, and community organizations that help support Macomb County residents every day.

“Together, we are working to help mitigate the ramifications of this public health issue and will now, and in the future, support our students, families, educators and citizens in the county.”

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