Wyandotte schools prepare to open with online learning

Photo by Larry Caruso

Paula Neuman

Wyandotte students will begin the school year with online learning only, and transition to face-to-face classroom instruction when and if it becomes safe to do so in light of the covid-19 pandemic.

The Board of Education and Supt. Catherine Cost published an Aug. 12  letter (https://www.wyandotte.org/covid-19-information) about the decision, which was based on guidance from local health, state and federal agencies as well as input from parents and staff.

Parents will get Chromebooks for their students to use for the online instruction, and written packets, as well. Parents also can opt to commit to a full semester or trimester of virtual learning instead of choosing to send their students back to classrooms when and if in-person learning is approved.

Students at home will be expected to log on during normal school hours, and — unlike the district’s online schooling in the spring— assignments this fall will count toward grades.

“The last five months have been more difficult than ever before,” the letter states. “Families have made great sacrifices and we are asking all of you to support your children yet again.”

Across the state, schools are reopening in a variety of ways. Some, such as Wyandotte, Allen Park and Southgate, are choosing not to offer in-person learning at all for September, and hoping to be able to open safely for more traditional face-to-face learning as the year progresses.

Other districts are offering full-time in-person learning this September, and some are offering a hybrid plan where students will spend a few days in the class each week and a few days of learning remotely. But all districts are offering full-time online options, as well. In-person learning, where it’s available, comes with a number of restrictions to help ensure student and staff safety.

The state’s guidelines for school districts require the development of learning plans for six identified coronavirus phases. 

Most of Michigan, including Downriver, is now in Phase 4, which allows in-person school with many restrictions for safety. Areas in Phases 1-3 are not allowed to open for face-to-face learning at all. Areas in Phases 5 and 6 can offer in-person schooling with fewer safety restrictions.

The science surrounding the new coronavirus creating the pandemic is still emerging, but seems to show that children of all ages are susceptible to infection. Many — but not all — youngsters don’t seem to become seriously ill if they get covid-19, but they do transmit the virus as easily as adults, thus potentially infecting adult school staff and family members at home who are more at risk for serious illness, according to federal health experts. More than 6,500 Michiganders have died of covid-19 as of early August..

Wyandotte parents can visit the Return to Learn tab on the district’s website (Wyandotte.org) to learn more.

 Wyandotte’s Preparedness plan

In April, 2020 the District created a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan. It was also approved and placed on the District’s website. Should we return to Phase 1, 2 or 3 during the 2020-21 school year, we will return to the Continuity of Learning Plan with a few minor updates. 

First is the expectation that new content will be delivered to every student, every regularly scheduled school day. Teachers will be provided additional professional development during the months of August – November in order to do this in an engaging way, with high rigor and online/paper assessments. 

The second major difference is that Executive Order 2020-35 stated children could not be penalized if they were unable to fully participate in the online learning opportunities.

Executive Order-142 calls for new learning, assessments and the assignment of grades by the teacher of record. WPS teachers, counselors, social workers and administrators will encourage and support each student in this, as students will now be required to do the work assigned to them.

Families and employees will be encouraged to provide their own face coverings – either cloth or disposable. The District will provide face coverings when a staff member or student does not have one. Enough face coverings for each student and staff. 

Individuals who claim medical exemption will need to meet with the Principal/School Nurse to provide rationale and documentation. Exempted individuals will be recorded in a master database and issued a sticker to display on their student ID or staff ID. 

Administrators and supervisors will ensure staff members wear masks when inside a school, on a bus or outside and not able to be 6 feet apart, except during meal time. Administrators and teachers will make sure all students prek-12 are wearing masks on busses, in hallways and in commons areas. Teachers will ensure face coverings will be worn in classrooms by all students in grades 6 -12, unless a student medically cannot tolerate a face covering. 

For prek-5 & Center Program, students will remain with their class throughout the school day and will not come into close contact with students in another class. Students who are capable of wearing a face covering and refuse to do so in an area where a face covering is required will be issued a face covering by a staff member. 

Students showing patterns of non-compliance will be removed from the school and placed into remote instruction until the student agrees to comply with this safety protocol.

Guests and substitute teachers will be issued a disposable face covering if they do not have one. They will sign in and be instructed to wear the covering at all times. Instances of non-compliance will result in the guest being escorted from the school.

 
Hygiene

Soap, hand sanitizer (with at least 60 percent alcohol), paper towels and wipes will be available in adequate supplies to support healthy behaviors. Maintenance staff will daily check soap levels and paper towels in each restroom and classroom. They will also ensure hand sanitizer stations in commons areas, cafeterias and hallways are refilled daily. 

Teachers will monitor the classroom supply of wipes and hand sanitizer, which will be distributed to schools from a central point. Teachers will contact the office immediately if supplies run out during the school day. At the beginning of the year, teachers will teach and reinforce handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as well as the proper use of hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol. 

This will happen in individual classrooms prek-5/Center Programs or in specified hours for grades 6-12.

Students and staff will also be taught how to cough and sneeze into their elbows, or to cover with a tissue and dispose of in the trash. Proper hand washing and sneezing will be communicated to families via newsletters, web pages, and social media. 

Sharing school supplies will be limited and each student will have his/her own supply of materials.

Cleaning 

District level maintenance administrators will meet with their staff to review all guidance related to cleaning and disinfecting of schools per the MI Safe Schools: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap. 

An inventory of all cleaning supplies that are in compliance with the EPA-approved related to COVID will be taken. New orders will be made to address the increased cleaning protocols. 

Frequently touched surfaces (e.g., light switches, door knobs, dry erase markers ) will be wiped down daily with an EPA-approved disinfectant. Libraries, computer labs, art and other hands-on classrooms will be wiped down after every class period with the same approved disinfectant. 

This work will be done by maintenance staff, teacher and/or students. Student desks will be wiped down at the end of the day, preK-5th grade. For those classrooms, 6 – 12th grade, the desks will be wiped down after every class period. This will be done by teachers and/or students. 

A training on cleaning materials and protocols will be provided to staff. 

Playground structures will undergo normal routine cleaning, as it has been done in the past. Playground equipment (e.g., soccer balls, jump ropes, four square balls) will be wiped down after each recess period. 

Disinfecting products will be stored as directed and securely stowed away from children.

Maintenance and teachers will ensure adequate ventilation when using these products.

Staff will be supplied with gloves, masks and face shields for use when performing all cleaning activities.

Athletics 

The district’s athletic director has attended numerous webinars with the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA). He in turn, has met with each coach and explained all the required actions. Our athletic trainer also oversees each athlete to complete an electronic questionnaire. 

WPS will comply with all guidance published by MHSAA. Coaches and students confirm each day they are healthy and symptom free. The athletic trainer oversees this process and collects the data. 

Equipment is disinfected by coaches after each use. Our third party bus contractor, Trinity, will clean and disinfect the buses before and after each use. 

Spectators are allowed provided the number is below the specified maximum, and they social distance and enter/exit at different points. This will be determined by the Athletic Department. 

Each student athlete is responsible for bringing his/her own water bottle. Coaches will enforce this as well ensure there are no handshakes, fist bumps or other unnecessary contact.

There will be no use of our indoor weight rooms and equipment will be used by only one athlete at a time, and be disinfected after use.

The athletic director will limit large scale, outdoor stadium events to 100 people. There will be no large scale indoor athletic events for the safety of everyone.

Screening 

Once a week, Wayne RESA (our ISD) will meet with the county health department for updates and trend data. This will, in turn, be shared with the District. Administrators and district nurses will cooperate to implement the protocols for screening students and staff. 

Those students and staff that develop symptoms will be provided a mask, if they aren’t already wearing one and sent for medical care or sent home. 

Each school will identify a remote or secluded area to serve as an isolation area. A log sheet will be maintained until the student is safely picked up from the school. Parents will be informed with clear directions on where and how to pick up the student. 

Symptomatic students and staff that are sent home will remain home until they have tested negative for COVID-19 or have been released from isolation. 

The District will communicate to parents/guardians that they are encouraged to check students’ temperatures at home every morning. Any students with a temperature above 100.4 must stay home. All staff will be required to conduct a health safety assessment each day and complete a Google form that verifies they are safe to work.

Testing 

WPS will cooperate with the Wayne County Health Department if a confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified. The administrators and teachers will use contact information to determine other individuals who have had close contact with the affected individual from two days before she/he showed symptoms until the time when she/he was last present at the school. 

The District will maintain confidentiality consistent with the ADA Act and other applicable federal and state privacy laws.


Busing and Student Transportation 

Wyandotte does not provide busing for our general education students, but we do for those students who have transportation as part of their IEP’s. This is handled by a third party contractor, Trinity Transportation. 

WPS will provide hand sanitizer for students to use prior to entering the bus. The students will be provided a mask, if they do not have one. Trinity Transportation will be responsible for providing masks for their staff, in addition to cleaning and disinfecting each vehicle before and after every run. This will be done at their garage, so no children will be present. 

Trinity will also clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces and equipment within each vehicle prior to morning and afternoon routes. 

We will request signage be added to each bus to address the use of face coverings of all students and staff and the use of hand sanitizer. Weather permitting, windows and doors will be opened during the cleaning process in order to let the vehicle air out. Similarly, the windows will be opened (whether permitting) while the vehicle is in motion in order to increase air circulation.

If a student becomes sick during the day, the school will contact a parent/guardian to come and transport the student safely home. If a driver becomes sick, the driver will not return to drive students home and will notify his/her Trinity supervisor.

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