Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts believes, this year, the district needs to spend time reacclimating students to consistently being in school.

Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts believes, this year, the district needs to spend time reacclimating students to consistently being in school.

File photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Superintendents offer views on upcoming school year

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published August 26, 2021


CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — As the new school year approaches, C & G Newspapers caught up with a couple local superintendents to capture their vision for the year.

Chippewa Valley Schools Superintendent Ron Roberts is heading into his 11th school year in that role.

“The most exciting thing in our district from the summer has been that we will be one-to-one with technology,” he said. “Every student in grade 3-12 will be issued a district laptop.”

Students in kindergarten to second grade will have access to a laptop in their classroom. Last year, the district issued many laptops, while many students used their own. Now, each student will have a district-issued computer.

“I think we need to spend time reacclimating our kids to consistently being in school,” Roberts said. “If you were a kindergartener in 2019-20, you were in school until March 2020 and then their education has been completely disrupted, and that’s all they’ve known.”

As of mid-August, the district’s facemask policy is that they are optional. It is strongly recommended that students wear one, Roberts said, particularly those unvaccinated. The district is not requiring staff members to be vaccinated.

Roberts anticipates this year will look more like the 2019-20 school year and less like last year.

“What will be the same is that we expect our kids to be in school every day,” he said.

Chippewa Valley is beginning the year in a traditional learning model. Classroom arrangements may look different from what students recall from the 2019-20 year.

Looking at curriculum, Roberts said a big focus this year will be on the teaching of reading.

“We’re making a district-wide effort, especially at lower grades, to use the best instructional methods possible to teach our kids to be better readers,” he said. “That influences their entire education.”

About 15,000 students are enrolled at Chippewa Valley Schools.

Roberts wants students to feel that the district is there to support them, not only academically, but socially and emotionally.

“I think we have some ways to go in helping our kids feel comfortable in school and that school is a good, fun and safe place,” he said. “They will have a life in school which is more reflective of what they are used to.”

The first day of classes for L’Anse Creuse Public Schools and Chippewa Valley Schools is Sept. 7.

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Superintendent Erik Edoff said the district’s focus this summer was getting one-to-one devices into the hands of students in grades 6-12. Devices will be distributed at each school’s registration day. Edoff said the district wasn’t completely able to fulfill that device capability last year.

Summer work for Edoff, who is in his fourth school year as superintendent, meant closing out what was done the previous school year and gearing up for the upcoming one.

This year, Edoff said L’Anse Creuse is launching a program with reading support specialists at elementary schools. He noted the district has hired additional counselors, with the goal of adding more counselors and social workers in the fall.

“That’s been a big planning piece, figuring out what those individuals will do and what their role will be, supporting what we believe and know to be more social and emotional needs of kids,” Edoff said.

Year in and year out, pandemic or not, Edoff said the best part of his job is watching kids and staff connect for learning.

“Seeing moments of learning, moments of celebration, ‘a-ha’ moments and hearing about something that was challenging and figured out,” he said. “Seeing education in action is the most satisfying part.”

As of mid-August, Edoff said the district’s mask policy is that masks are optional, but they are recommended indoors, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Edoff said the district is aiming to do as many things like the 2019-20 school year, prior to the pandemic, as possible. He said COVID-19 protocols won’t be as extensive as last year.

“There’s no longer a required return to school document from the state level that we were under last year and expired in June,” he said.

Now, the district will make its own decisions as to what measures are in place. For curriculum, the superintendent said new social studies materials are coming. He noted that it was difficult last year to take on curriculum projects, since staff was so inundated with dealing with the pandemic.

Edoff’s message to students who are nearing the beginning of a fresh year is, “We welcome you back to school no matter where you’re at and how you feel, no matter how successful or unsuccessful you felt last year — we welcome you back and will work with you where you are at.”

L’Anse Creuse enrollment hovers around 10,000 students.