Brian Walmsley reads to a third grade class at Will L. Lee Elementary School.

COVID-19 concerns drive Richmond schools to extend online and in-person options

Brian Walmsley reads to a third grade class at Will L. Lee Elementary School via Richmond Community Schools Facebook page. 

COVID-19 cases rise across the state of Michigan as more K-12 students have returned to in-person learning. 

Richmond Community school district board reevaluated its Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan via Zoom at the school board’s regular meeting on March 22. The board decided to continue options for both in-person and virtual learning. 

Superintendent Brian Walmsley said the district had an emergency meeting March 22 with the Health Department in Macomb County about high school students seeing an  increase in COVID-19 cases. 

Some board members asked how Richmond compared to other school districts. 

“Anchor Bay shut down for a couple days this week for the high school and I know St. Clair County’s got a ton of districts that are now virtual,” said Treasurer Danielle Sutton. 

According to Walmsley, Richmond schools are monitoring differences in COVID-19 cases among districts, including tracing positive cases back to events that have taken place outside school, such as a party or social gathering.  

“Nine out of 10 times, the contact tracing goes back to an event that has been outside of school … but typically when school districts are at that point (facing shutdowns), they are starting to identify the spread is happening because of contact within the school,” said Walmsley. “We haven’t had the significant positive cases that other districts are reporting.” 

Richmond schools have been averaging one exposure per day and had around 100 students in quarantine as of March 22, according to Walmsley. 

Walmsley said there was concern about spring break causing a spike in positive cases.  

With both in-person and virtual options for all students K-12, the district uses a two-way communication policy to measure attendance. Currently, around 10% of students have virtual instruction. 

Walmsley encouraged students, parents and staff to keep following social distancing and wear masks.

Olivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, holding her Michigan State University acceptance letter.

Remote learning creates challenges for Michigan high school seniors preparing for college

FacebookOlivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, holding her Michigan State University acceptance letter. As high school seniors across Michigan approach graduation, many have spent most of their school year in front of a computer screen. School districts throughout the state had implemented remote learning to slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect students, teachers and staff. 

For students continuing their education, some say online learning has created challenges as they prepare for college.  

Olivia Nasiatka, senior at Cousino High School, said she feels online learning has not set her up to be successful in college. 

“Most teachers have been super lax about everything,” said Nasiatka. “Of course, kids would prefer it to be like this, but we’re missing out on almost half a year of material. It’s going to be a big shock for kids next year when they find out that their college classes won’t be as laid back.”

College application process

Remote learning has led to difficulties in the college application process for some students.

Sparty wearing a mask from @michiganstateu Instagram.

Incoming and current freshmen at Michigan State University are eager for in-person classes

On March 5, Michigan State University President Samuel L. Stanley announced in an email that 75% of undergraduate classes would be offered in-person for the fall of 2021. 

Stanley wrote, “Classes will be offered in multiple scenarios — in person, hybrid and some still online, especially those that would traditionally fill large lecture halls. We expect that routine mitigation testing and other public health policies will continue at some level in the fall, and all of us will need to adhere to these policies and engage in the actions and behaviors that have kept us safe and healthy.”

A survey was sent out to the classes of 2024 and 2025 official Facebook pages to get a better understanding of the types of classes and living arrangements incoming and current Spartans will be selecting. 

The survey received 39 responses, and most said students will be choosing courses taught in-person. 

The survey results in Figure 1 show 43% of students plan to choose in-person classes and 24% will choose majority in-person classes with some online classes. 

Figure 1 shows the type of classes incoming and current freshmen students will be scheduling for the Fall 2021 semester. Many will schedule in-person and majority in-person with some online classes. Zoe Pozios, freshman at Michigan State said, she will try to find mostly in-person classes. As a STEM major, it is hard for Pozios to do online labs.

Delsa Chapman

Lansing schools unveil modified safe learning plan for March 22 reopening

Delsa Chapman, deputy superintendent of Lansing School District via Facebook. 

The Lansing School District Executive Board said schools are set to open on March 22. Board of education members recommended the Safe Learning Plan via Zoom at the school board’s Feb. 18 meeting. 

In the hybrid model, morning classes Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are screen to screen, said Deputy Superintendent Delsa Chapman. The afternoons during the week are for the Student Opportunities for Academic Re-Engagement initiative (SOAR). This means face-to-face instruction with familiar teachers. 

Delsa Chapman, deputy superintendent, led a presentation that outlined the board’s reasoning and plans for safely reopening schools.

What top Michigan teachers say must happen for safe in-person classes

In January, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said she wished to see Michigan K-12 schools return to in-person instruction by March 1. Several of the state’s best K-12 front-line instructors, designated as top teachers in various award competitions, say how they think that can happen safely. Some have already been teaching in person. Others are waiting to return. Janine Scott

Janine Scott, Davis Aerospace Technical High School, Detroit, Michigan, Region 10 Michigan Teacher of the Year 2020-2021, 11th grade math teacher

“So, I am teaching virtually now, no in-class, and the governor said that she would like for all schools to have something open for kids.

Award-winning teachers say what a longer post-COVID school year would need

Michigan Schools Superintendent Michael Rice has floated the idea that, to help students catch up on instruction lost during the COVOD-19 pandemic, the 2021-2022 school year be extended.

Here, award-winning teachers from throughout Michigan react to or propose ideas for that suggestion.

Let us play: High school athletes rally at the Capitol to restart sports seasons

Michigan high school athletes and supporters rallied at the Capitol Jan. 30, appealing to the governor to end the COVID postponement of sports

A young crowd, mostly masked, was peaceful, in contrast to recent rallies at this and other Capitols. The students said that sports keep them engaged in school, lift their mental health in dark times and help some of them get into college.

Several who attended said they would like Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to acknowledge their #letusplay #letthemplay peaceful demonstration and their demand for a quick return to sports.