Lake Shore to Gradually Adopt a Hybrid Approach to Learning in the Fall



ST. CLAIR SHORES – Lake Shore Public Schools will begin the year on September 8, but it remains to be seen how many students will occupy seats inside buildings in the district and how many will remotely log into their Chromebooks.

On August 12, the Lake Shore Public Schools School Board approved a detailed plan that invites parents and students to choose one of two options for the 2020-21 school year – 100% virtual or a hybrid model d ‘in-person and distance education.

“We are trying to reopen schools as safely as possible in the midst of a pandemic,” said Superintendent Joseph DiPonio.

The district felt it was better prepared than other schools during the emergency shutdown in the last term of the 2019-20 school year, as Lake Shore students all have a Chromebook assigned to them and were already accustomed to using it and the learning management software, Therefore, he believes that he can already do a full distance education as required in phases 1 to 3 of the reopening of the state, although that administrators have said they have learned and plan to improve distance education starting in the spring.

“Phases 4 and 5 are the most complex” to plan, however, said DiPonio.

A team of parents, teachers, administrators and staff at Lake Shore developed a return to learning plan that adopted most of the required and highly recommended elements by the state in its 68 pages.

Lake Shore Public Schools have already started offering enrollment in its 100% virtual option for families, which DiPonio said would likely be the most cohesive plan for students as it wouldn’t have to change if an increase in COVID-19 cases was causing another state shutdown. The virtual option will be flexible and adaptable to the needs of the students, he said, while being just as rigorous as the in-person learning and taught by the teaching staff at Lake Shore. More than 250 families had already signed up for the fully virtual option as of August 12, and DiPonio said they had yet to decide when to ask families to make a choice.

“Whether you are in person or you are a virtual student, you are still a Shorian,” he said.

Rachelle Wynkoop, deputy superintendent of academic and student services, said the district is asking parents to be flexible and adaptable and that it will, too. It only asks families to commit to a semester or a semester of 100% virtual learning with the possibility of switching to the hybrid model in November (for elementary schools) or in December (for colleges and high schools) if they wish.

The face to face option is more complex and requires a lot more security protocols.

Lake Shore public schools will have a gradual and gradual return to a 50% hybrid model. This means that in about the first two weeks of school, about a quarter of students who choose the hybrid plan will go to school for half a day on any given day, with the rest learning by distance. This will allow teachers to teach and manage safety protocols and allow students to get used to returning to school, while also allowing the district to see how safe it is to return students to buildings.

“If we start small, I have no doubts that we will have successful school days,” said DiPonio, explaining that the worst case scenario would be having to close schools again after having too many people in the building at the same time.

The district will then work gradually until a day A and day B scenario where 50% of the students attend the rotation days.

Wynkoop said the district needs to plan for distance learning and will use a more systematic approach with weekly classroom calendars in Schoology to maintain consistency whether students are in class or learning from a distance. Assessments will be consistent with in-person learning but delivered virtually, and there will be daily synchronous learning and connections.

The district will create non-digital learning kits, especially for the younger ones, so they don’t sit in front of a computer screen all day. High school students can expect their learning to be more digitally based, while elementary students will have things like a “workspace in a bag,” Wynkoop said, as well as manipulatives. .

Students who are learning virtually or remotely will have times when they connect with their teacher in real time and times when they are offline doing other work.

Also, she said, this year the number of jobs and student expectations are different from what they were during the emergency shutdown.

Lake Shore is temporarily suspending transportation for its general education students, although the bus is still provided for homeless students and those for whom the bus is requested in their IEP or 504. That’s because the district has estimated that he couldn’t distance himself socially enough to keep students safe on a bus.

Facilities throughout the district, including classrooms and play equipment, will undergo regular and frequent cleanings, and meals will be delivered to students in their classroom, where they will have lunch. Spaces distributed throughout the buildings and even outside will also be used to space the students. Parents will be able to order meals online and pay for them in advance to minimize contact, and recess will be timed to maintain social distancing.

Extracurricular activities will follow the same safety protocols and can be delivered in person or virtually, depending on the activity. Fall sports began on Aug. 10, but Wynkoop said the district is still awaiting advice from the Michigan High School Athletic Association on how the fall sports seasons will play out. Assemblies and field trips that require transportation are suspended and each classroom will be disinfected at the end of each day using a Clorox 360 machine.

George Lewis, deputy superintendent of employee services, said they will try to reduce the use of lockers and other shared spaces. Masks will be required for all students and staff at all times, Kindergarten to Grade 12, and a doctor’s note will be required to excuse students who cannot medically tolerate a face covering. Those who cannot medically wear a mask will be encouraged to wear a face shield, which is also allowed in addition to a mask for other students if they wish.

Parents will be asked to screen their children every day before they come to school and check their temperature, and there will be hand disinfection stations at all entry points. The district will use multiple entry points when available to prevent students from gathering or waiting in large groups while waiting to enter school.

The district is also looking to hire certified medical assistants to staff its quarantine rooms in each building.

Security protocols will be similar in Phases 4 and 5, Lewis said. The district has an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, and while students and staff are allowed to wear their own face masks, the district also has them for those in need.

Lewis said building managers would set schedules and share them with teachers and staff and then with students in the coming weeks. The district will also survey families to find out who needs help with a portable Wi-Fi hotspot because they do not have internet access at home.

DiPonio said the approved plan is not set in stone, but will be revised as needed as the district progresses through the school year.

“This plan is absolutely not one size fits all,” he said. “It creates a substantial burden on our families and it is the last thing we want to do.”

Education Council member Joshua Denzler said while he votes for and supports the plan, he doesn’t think the district will be ready to open up to in-person instruction on September 8.

“I don’t think reopening to our normal start date in September is prudent right now,” he said. “We are going in the wrong direction.

“I support this plan for when we are ready to reopen. “

DiPonio said most of the Lake Shore students will log in to hook up with their teacher for the first time on September 8.

“The first day of school will be September 8 and the majority of our students will start on this day virtually,” said DiPonio. “Our goal is to get a small group of kids that day (to) start to re-acclimatize.

“We have to be able to manage the resources we have in relation to the number of students who are in the building… slowly reintegrating the students into the building. We ask our community to be patient and supportive with their children throughout this process.



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