Saline Area Schools Superintendent Scot Graden addressed questions from the community in another live Facebook video Tuesday.
In the video, Graden said he was proud of the way the community has come together, and by the way Saline staff have students continue to grow and learn to make the most of the situation. Saline and Michigan students have been out of school since March 16 in an attempt to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic.
Below you'll find the video and a summary of the points Graden made in the video
On online instruction
The district intends to implement a more robust “enrichment and engagement plan beginning April 6. This is not mandatory. This is not something that’s going to impact someone’s grade or grade point average. Staff is looking forward to connecting with students with learning opportunities between now and the end of the school year.
Administration is looking at ways to make sure seniors, with a few exceptions, are able to graduate with diplomas and move on with their careers. Because two trimesters are complete many students have already earned enough credits to graduate.
Before and after care and child care for first responders
The district is working with its Community Education department for child care for first responders and other essential staff as early as April 6. More information will come out soon.
Next phase of online learning. Will it use Zoom?
Like yes. Staff have been using it and found it effective. The model is building off lessons. Lessons will be similar from classroom to classroom (ie, 4th graders will be taught from the same lessons, regardless of teacher/school).
News on reopening?
The state has telegraphed they will make an announcement soon. Superintendents have advocated to the state about what a closure for the rest of the year would look like, what districts could do with staff during that time, and what returning to school would look like. Districts, teachers and families want clarity.
Extending the school year?
It’s been discussed by the Michigan Department of Education and the Governor’s Office. Schools could be asked to start early next year - if the virus subsides. It’s also possible the district is asked to extend the school year in 2020-21 to make up for lost learning. Again, districts are looking for clarity. Graden expects that if school doesn’t resume in 19-20, the 20-21 year will look different.
Several hundred devices are being distributed to students, but it’s not necessarily about ramping up for online learning with grades and tests. It’s about engagement and enrichment opportunities for students, and keeping students connected to their school community. Students will be back to school at some point. Staying engaged is important. The district does not anticipate the state will pivot this year and allow districts to count online learning.
The tech department has gotten devices ready for distribution and sanitized them, putting them in bags and developing a safe system, with input from nurse Karen Hervey, to distribute them.
The more robust lessons will begin April 6.
Students needing nutrition
The district continues to work with Saline Area Social Service to provide nutrition for students. SASS has doubled its distribution. They’ve seen an influx of volunteers and support. It’s important to continue to support SASS. The Saline American Legion let volunteers use their parking lots. And now they’re letting volunteers use the Legion hall for packaging food for SASS clients. This will be a growing effort. The district has provided food and communication. It can’t actually give its federal funding to a different agency, however.
All that said, the district is expecting this closure to last beyond April 6 and is now looking at options for distributing food. Beginning April 6, the district is going to take a more “meaningful role” in the food distribution process.
What about art classes online?
The district intends for teachers of electives to provide online enrichment lessons.
Are all employees receiving regular and full paychecks?
Yes. Nobody is earning overtime. Bus drivers aren’t getting extra trip time. But everyone is getting their regular pay. That’s why it’s important the state clarify the waiving of school days. The district doesn’t want to pay everyone for eight weeks and then be told they have make it up in the summer and pay it again. The district’s rainy day fund isn’t capable of handing a few extra weeks of paychecks.
Coronavirus in school community?
The district has not heard of any cases. Graden expects it’s only a matter of time, however, before that changes. If a student were to be identified as having the illness the district would be notified by Washtenaw County. Once the district has been out of school for 14 days, should a student be diagnosed, it would be unlikely it was contracted at school.
There’s been no word yet from the MHSAA on the spring sports season. It’s very unlikely school will be back by April 14, and if the state keeps students out of school much longer than that, it’s unlikely there will be a spring sports season. It’s also unlikely the winter sports playoffs will resume.
Refunds for School Trips to Toronto and DC
The district is working with Student Ventures on this issue.
Families with education needs
Reach out to the building principal.
Kindergarten registration night was canceled and won’t be rescheduled. To register, go to Salineschools.org. There may be an opportunity for tours before school resumes in the fall.
People doing good work
Take time to write a letter to people in the community doing good work. Reflect on the positives and the way we’ve supported each other.
Schools of choice
The timeline for applications has not changed. The six-week window begins in early May.
The intention is to print the yearbooks, but there are a lot of issues that need to be resolved.
They’ve been halted by Gov Whitmer’s executive order. Construction workers are deemed non-essential.
Resources for kids with mental health issues related to this situation.
For any children experiencing difficulty, connect with their school counselor. Schools can also connect families with resources they need.
PSAT and SATs rescheduled?
There’s no word yet. It’s up the College Board. They’ve shown some flexibility around AP testing.
On meeting the challenge
It’s rapidly changing and a challenging situation. What we plan one day is literally in the trash can the next day. We want to be consistent in our efforts to support our community. We want to be able to pivot quickly and be fluid and move and go where we are needed most.
Graden encouraged people to step away from their devices and write a letter to people who are making a difference in the community.
"Take the opportunity to write a letter or two to people who’ve made a positive difference, either for you and your family, or for the community. It’s imperative we continue to support each other," Graden said.