During the Lansing Board of Education meeting held on July 16, via zoom, board members not only reviewed the effectiveness of the continuity of learning plan used during the final months of last school year, but they also unveiled their plans for the 2020-21 school year.
The continuity of learning plan proved to be effective, and according to Dr. Delia Chapman, the Lansing School District will keep classes online for at least the first marking period of the coming school year.
“We are looking to open for the fall of 2020, in a nontraditional manner,” said Chapman. “We also will make sure and anticipate equitable expectations, and we will take a very holistic approach. Focusing on those three areas, the nontraditional opening will convene, or start, as of August 31, and it will go through the entire first marking period of the 2020-21 school year.”
When COVID-19 shut down the Lansing School District on March 16, Lansing schools resorted to online learning for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year. The 2020-21 school year is going to continue in a similar fashion, and faculty members of the Lansing School District are currently working on a training program to make sure teachers are more prepared than last school year.
Chapman also said they have been planning on opening the school year with online classes since before Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap was released last month. Chapman said that keeping students and faculty healthy is the No.1 priority right now.
“Very early on, even before June 30 release of Gov. Whitmer’s MI Safe Schools Roadmap, we decided that the 2020-21 school year for the Lansing School District would need to be reimagined,” said Chapman. “Hopefully all of us, as an organization, as a community, will understand, with this reimagining or re-imaging of how we learn, we can’t stress enough that safety as well as academic support, and mental health support, are the center and nucleus of the plan that we are proposing this evening.”
Chapman was not the only attendee that was concerned with the health of the students and faculty during this coming school year. Gabrielle Lawrence, president of the Lansing Board of Education, said that she and her fellow board members feel that health is the No.1 priority, even if some people don’t like their plan. Lawrence continued to say that if they don’t keep their students healthy, there will be no need for school.
“It’s impossible to make everyone happy in this situation,” said Lawrence. “No matter what we do next year, some people are not going to be happy with it, some people are going to be probably kind of happy with it. This is not an ideal situation for anyone. We are doing the best we can with the information that we have, we are trying to keep staff and students safe and healthy. In my opinion, and I know a lot of my colleagues on the board share this opinion, health is number one, priority number one, because if our students aren’t healthy, and they’re passing this deadly virus around, among each other, and the staff, then we don’t need to have school, because we aren’t going to have students.”
While the continuity of learning plan was an effective way to communicate during remote learning, Associate Superintendent of the Lansing School District, Camela Diaz, said that this coming school year, the board is looking to do a better job of training teachers to use technology to its fullest potential.
“Because we had such an immediate turnaround, and then such an immediate start and finish, the training for teachers at that time was kind of quick and dirty,” said Diaz. “The training that we are in the process already of doing to support teachers, and what we know to be a possible up and down all next year, is very different, very intense, intentional, and progressive. So it will be, it will look very different in terms of our forward thinking as opposed to what we did under the continuity of learning plan.”