Roseville and Eastpointe schools return to classes

Roseville Board votes for full virtual learning for first month

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published September 3, 2020

 Roseville Community Schools will be hosting all of its classes online for the first month of the 2020-21 school year.

Roseville Community Schools will be hosting all of its classes online for the first month of the 2020-21 school year.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

 Eastpointe Community Schools returned to classes Sept. 8. Students were given the option to learn in person or online.

Eastpointe Community Schools returned to classes Sept. 8. Students were given the option to learn in person or online.

Photo by Brendan Losinski

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EASTPOINTE/ROSEVILLE — Schools in both the Roseville and Eastpointe school districts are set to resume classes Sept. 8, albeit with many attending electronically from home.

Both districts had chosen to offer the option for students to attend classes either in-person or virtually. However, Roseville Community Schools recently made a decision to begin the school year virtually for all students for the first month of classes.

The Roseville School Board voted Aug. 31 to resume all classes on a virtual basis beginning Tuesday, Sept. 8. The first week of school will be half-days in order to help students acclimatize with the format.

“This was a very difficult decision,” Superintendent Mark Blaszkowski said in an email. “We were hoping the number of COVID cases would get better by now, but unfortunately that is not the case. Macomb County has the highest rate of positive COVID cases in southeastern Michigan and it has been this way for several weeks.”

Under the current plan, students will work virtually until Friday, Oct. 9. Those who signed up for in-person classes will then return to the buildings on Monday, Oct. 12.

“Teachers are required to use Schoology as the learning management system. This will provide a consistent look at your child’s virtual experience,” Blaszkowski said. “This is what many of you asked for in the spring. We also will be providing support videos for parents to help them support their child in navigating the Schoology platform. Our teachers are receiving additional intense training in virtual learning in the next two weeks.”

Students will be contacted by teachers with passwords. Letters will be sent to parents with log-in information as well. Administrators said the student experience will be somewhat more stringent than when they completed the school year virtually in the spring.

“Student expectations will be much higher this fall as well,” Blaszkowski wrote. “All students will receive grades based on the work they complete. There will not be a pass/fail system like in the spring.”

Blaszkowski defended the board’s decision to make this call only a few days before the start of classes.

“Some of you may ask why we waited so long to make this decision. It is mostly because we were optimistic that things would get better,” he wrote. “We all want things to get back to normal. We all want our students to be able to come back. However, now is not the right time. We must look at the safety of our students and staff first.”

Eastpointe Community Schools will resume classes on Tuesday, Sept. 8, as was initially planned. About half of district students chose to attend virtually. Those attending in person will go into the buildings for four hours in the morning and complete the rest of their learning virtually.

Eastpointe Superintendent Ryan McLeod said that they are taking several measures to minimize the risks for students attending in person.

“We took three main steps for face-to-face learning to try and get it off the ground,” he explained. “First, we moved the start of the school year back a week so we had time this past week to learn our new practices and procedures for running during a pandemic.

“We also are returning on an alternating green or white schedule. This means that half of the students coming back in person will alternate the first two weeks being in the building. So half are coming back on Sept. 8 and the other half are actually coming back on Sept. 9. We will then bring them all back together on Sept. 18.

“The third thing is that for in-person students ... the schedule is going down to four hours per day. Lunch was the trickiest part to handle with social distancing and only having so many students in one area at a time, so we aren’t having them in the cafeteria and giving them lunches to take home instead.”

He also said they learned a lot from their experiences teaching students at home and are moving forward with a more streamlined approach for those continuing to attend classes virtually.

“Our virtual students are doing all of their work online but with opportunities to get extra help from staff members,” said McLeod. “It was pass/fail in the spring when in-person classes were suspended. This year will be the full, rigorous curriculum and it will be normal grading and as normal as our content would be as possible.”

McLeod said that school districts needed to do everything in their power to prevent making the current situation worse.

“If we move forward headlong, it will only mean more students and staff will have to miss class in the future,” he said. “The biggest message is that we are facing a situation we’ve never faced before in modern public education. Everything will look familiar but there are many things in place to keep people safe. It will be a different experience for a while. What we’ve found is that there’s a lot of excitement for people to come back, especially with how things ended abruptly last March.”

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