Local school districts prepare for upcoming year

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Students will have to wait to show off their first day of school outfit, as the upcoming school year for those in the Lansing School District will be like no other, when students will start the first marking period online.

The move was announced in mid-July, and has sparked mixed reviews with the decision to go online in regards to parents and staff.

Kari Haines, who is a former music educator in the Lansing School District, said how the way the district is handling the situation is the right one.

“I’m so glad to see the kids and teacher’s health and safety is being put first,” said Haines. “I’m hoping more districts follow this lead.”

Haines appreciation for the district’s decision, however, is joined with parents who are more flustered with lack of communication and multiple questions, especially for those with special education students.

“What about the kids who are in special ed or the kids that go to Lansing schools with disabilities?” said Lansing school district parent Sheila Bloom. “How are teachers going to get the services they need that the school provides for them if they’re not in school?”

This past month, the school district has attempted to get feedback from the parents by sending out surveys to not only parents, but teachers as well.

The surveys addressed such needs as resources they need and if they’ll want the option to teach or keep their kids at home for the full school year, according to the school district’s virtual town hall.

Parent University

Another way Lansing is planning to accommodate parents is through a newly initiated program called Parent University.

Newly initiated program Parent University hopes to accommodate parents and students.

 Deputy Superintendent of Lansing School District Delsa Chapman said Parent University is a way to create a positive culture for parents by collaborating with parents.

“The ultimate goal for Parents University is to work collaboratively with parents in a safe, supportive and non-judgmental environment,” Chapman. “We want to strengthen the relationship between parents, students and staff.”

Parent University will offer classes in order to enhance the relationship between a child and their parent, with the ability to gain access to a large range of resources, according the counties’ website.

Okemos follows suit

 Lansing is not the only district to go online.

Dean Bolton, president of the Board of Education for Okemos Public Schools, said how important accommodations need to be for parents, especially for those of special education.

“We understand that a level of flexibility will be needed to accommodate circumstances faced by our families, staff and students during this time,” Bolton said. “With regard to special education students with IEPs, the district administration and special education department will collaborate with parents, guardians and staff to systematically review student programs on an individualized basis to ensure contingency plans are in place for those students.”

The district is currently finalizing the 2020-2021 Return to School Plan. With this plan, one of the concerns that are addressed are the social-emotional effects, Bolton said.

“The board did discuss the impacts on the social-emotional health of our students and staff,” said Bolton. “The 2020-2021 Return to School plan will include efforts to mitigate the social-emotional impacts that come with both online learning and our eventual return to in-person learning.”

Bolton said more information will be available when the plan is finalized and approved by the board.

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