Battle Creek, Kalamazoo schools unveil learning plans

Southwest Michigan

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — The Battle Creek Public Schools board has approved a Return to Learn plan, and Kalamazoo Public Schools released its plan late Monday evening, which has not yet been voted on by the board.

KALAMAZOO PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Kalamazoo Public Schools is proposing a three-tiered trimester plan that starts fully virtual for all grades and a second option that allows parents to opt-in for online instruction for the full year. Parents can change their mind later in the school year but must make an initial decision by Aug. 14.

The first trimester would run from Aug. 31 to Nov. 24 and would be completely virtual.

The second trimester being proposed is from Nov. 30 through March 12, with two days of in-person and three days at home.

The third trimester is March 15 through June 11 and would be in person five days a week.

Courtesy: Kalamazoo Public Schools
Courtesy: Kalamazoo Public Schools

Most districts like Grand Rapids Public Schools, which is starting fully virtual, are initially planning for nine weeks in that phase. KPS would be committing to 12 weeks if the plan is approved by the board.

“We asked for input as we were developing plan options. We listened to all stakeholders including students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff members, and community partners. We listened during scheduled public input sessions, board meeting and meeting with KPS employees. We listened to health experts. We read a lot of emails, research, and guidance documents. We also looked at what worked well in the spring and what did not work as well. Our plan was developed carefully considering all the above,” Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Raichourhuri said.

The district is hosting seven virtual town halls to provide details on its plan. Questions will also be taken. Those take place Aug. 4-6, Aug. 8 and Aug. 10.

The plan is expected to be voted on during the Aug. 12 virtual school board meeting. For more details on the proposal, visit the KPS’ website.

BATTLE CREEK PUBLIC SCHOOLS

If the area continues to remain in Phase 4 as determined by the state, BCPS students kindergarten through 5th grade will have the option of in-person instruction. Students grade 6th through 12th will begin the year virtually. Some exceptions will be made, including for students with Individual Education Plans, who will be scheduled for some in-person instruction in addition to virtual schooling.

The K-5 instruction will be available Monday through Friday on a full-time basis. Superintendent Kimberly Carter told the board in a virtual meeting Monday night that BCPS did not have the ability to implement other hybrid options that are being considered by some other districts.

All parents will have the option of virtual-only instruction if they do not want their child returning to the classroom.

“As the result of our ability to provide some safety measures and in collaboration with the Calhoun County Health Department, we believe that we can put in place a cohorting strategy that can mitigate the spread to a level that we feel comfortable bringing students back to school,” Carter said. “It is also important to note that much of this recommendation centers on a lot of unknowns. We don’t know how many families will opt for the virtual academy. We don’t know how many families will opt for in-person instruction, and so this will require flexibility.”

Each student will be provided a computer and the district is providing ways for them to access the internet if they do not have a connection at their home.

Several safety precautions are being taken, like requiring that masks be worn and cleaning buildings every four hours. Carter says every classroom will have hand sanitizer and students will stay in their classroom throughout the day to reduce the risk of potentially spreading the virus. Lunches will be eaten in the classroom, and special courses like art will be taught in the same room as well.

If the state moves to Phase 5, all grades will have the in-person option. If the area moves back to Phase 3, every grade will move to online-only.

In the virtual meeting, board members read a series of public comments from parents. Some parents voiced concerns about working full-time and having to monitor their child’s virtual learning at the same time. Other parents expressed concerns about returning to in-person instruction and say it will put students, families and the community at greater risk of contracting the virus.

According to the superintendent, the plan goes through first nine weeks, then the district will reassess the situation.

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