Troy Schools’ “Return 2 Learn” plan allows the district to transition from a fully virtual learning platform to a hybrid option to a 100% in-seat learning program.

Troy Schools’ “Return 2 Learn” plan allows the district to transition from a fully virtual learning platform to a hybrid option to a 100% in-seat learning program.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Troy Schools plans to offer in-person, at-home learning options

By: Mary Beth Almond | Troy Times | Published August 10, 2020

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TROY — The Troy School District is giving students the option of learning in-person or virtually for the 2020-21 school year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether students choose to learn in-person or from home, district officials said they will be placed on traditional classroom rosters and taught by Troy School District teachers using the same curriculum, with aligned pacing, standards and outcomes for students.

The school administration presented their Return 2 Learn Plan to the Troy School District Board of Education during a special meeting Aaug. 5.

Superintendent Rick Machesky said the plan, which was created just three weeks earlier, was “challenging” to develop.

“Our plan was designed to be flexible and change with the conditions around us,” he said. “The Return 2 Learn plan, which was collaboratively developed, allows for the ability to transition from a fully virtual, online, remote learning platform, through a transition to learn platform — which is more of a hybrid platform  … all the way through a 100% in-seat option.”

When Michigan is in phase 1-3 of the MI Safe Start Plan, Troy schools will be closed and all students will move to a fully virtual learning option. During virtual learning, there will be live instruction via Zoom for all courses.

When the state is in phase 4 or 5, Troy Schools will be open for four days of in-person instruction — with all students attending class virtually on Wednesdays to allow for cleaning of the facilities. Under this option, sometimes called the “hybrid plan,” approximately 50% of students will attend class at school — either on Monday and Tuesday, or on Thursday and Friday — while the other half of students will log in to their class virtually to receive instruction from their teacher along with their in-person peers. Students will be placed into cohorts by last name for in-seat attendance.

When the region is in phase 6 of the MI Safe Start Plan, 100% of Troy School students will be allowed in class for five days of in-person instruction.

Christine DiPilato, the assistant superintendent for secondary instruction, said families who are not comfortable with in-person instruction this school year may elect to keep a student home to learn virtually with their assigned classroom all year. Parents can indicate an interest in the 100% virtual learning option beginning Aug. 13, but district officials said families have flexibility to make changes at any time.

“Unlike other plans that have been put forward in other districts, we are not requiring our families to choose a virtual academy that runs separate from our learning platform in the Troy School District. We are integrating all of our students into classrooms, into rosters, so that they can continue to grow under the care and guidance of our TSD teachers,” DiPilato explained.

Troy Schools also plans to roll out a one-to-one technology program this school year, which will grant each student in the district an iPad to aid in their studies. Regardless of how or where instruction is being delivered, Troy Schools officials said, teachers and students will use one platform, Schoology, and learning will be seamless. All teachers will be providing daily live instruction via Zoom, and attendance will be taken daily.

The Troy School District will follow the requirements in the MI Return to School Roadmap, which includes physical spacing, face coverings, and health and hygiene precautions.

Rick West, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, said all students K-12 will be required to wear masks all day in the classrooms.

“We wrestled with this. We know that it was a strong recommendation, not a requirement, for kids younger than fifth grade to wear masks all day. But for the safety of all, safety of staff, safety of students, we felt it best to recommend that masks would be required all day in classrooms and common areas all day for K-post high. … Masks will be required pretty much everywhere, at all times, with the few exceptions,” West said.

District officials said case-by-case exceptions may be made for anyone who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering, is incapacitated or is unable to remove the covering without assistance.

The district will provide soap, hand sanitizer stations, paper towels and other supplies, and also plans to educate students, providing signage to reinforce proper hand washing techniques and set aside designated times in the day for students to wash their hands.

Machesky said teams are currently working on what classroom set-ups will look like in each building. To give the community a general idea, desks, tables and workstations will be spaced apart “as far as possible” and all will face the same direction. Soft furniture and shared learning spaces that cannot easily be disinfected throughout the day may be removed, but district officials said most classrooms will look very similar to a regular school year.

While social distancing will not be possible for students using bus transportation, the district is requiring the use of facial coverings and hand sanitizer for all riders.

The board was slated to officially approve the Return 2 Learn plan during a special board meeting Aug. 12, after press time.

Troy Schools is one of 13 Oakland County school districts collaborating with the International Academy, which has a first day of school on Aug. 20.

The IA is a tuition-free countywide magnet school with three campuses — Bloomfield Hills, White Lake and Troy.

At press time, IA students were reportedly slated to begin the school year online Aug. 20, but move to in-person learning via a hybrid learning option — with half of the student body attending school in-person, while the other half attends virtually — beginning Aug. 31. The IA is also reportedly offering a fully virtual option to students.

Riya Chakravarty, 17, of Troy, who attends the International Academy, said she is “really excited” about the upcoming school year.

“As a senior, I really want to make the most of my senior year, but, given the unprecedented times, I’m really glad that (there is a) plan that prioritizes both our physical health and our mental health,” Chakravarty said.

Chakravarty has yet to decide if she will opt to attend school in-person or virtually.

“A few of us are still on the fence. I know many people doing online learning, as well as some people that are doing in-person. I’m leaning toward doing in-person, but I’m not completely sure yet,” she said.

Chakravarty thanked IA teachers and administrators for developing a learning plan which she said caters to students’ safety and well-being, along with their academics.

For more information about Troy Schools, visit troy.k12.mi.us or call Troy Schools at (248) 823-4000.

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