Virtual kindergarten has been a struggle for throughout Michigan

Michigan school enrollment fell by 53,000 students during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Of those students, 13,000 were in kindergarten. 

According to Chalkbeat Detroit, Detroit Public Schools lost 2,719 or 5% of students, Lansing Public Schools lost 927 or 9% of students, Kalamazoo Public Schools lost 690 or 5% of students, and Traverse City has lost 552 or 6% of students. 

The decline in kindergarten enrollment is concerning to teachers, principals, administrators, and parents across four districts in Michigan. 

Principals say the slide is continuing

Gier Park Elementary in Lansing has grades Pre-K-3 and Principal Christopher Cadogan has seen decreases in enrollment. Photo courtesy Christopher Cadogan. “If we just look at last year, the 2019 to 2020 school year, we ended that year with 84 kindergarteners,” Cadogan said. “This year we’re at 75 and it’s not the end of the school year.”

Comparing this to the 2018-2019 school year, Cadogan said the school had even more students at 97 and you can really see the contrast between then and now. 

Cadogan said kindergarten teaches developmental lessons and tries to provide students with the basic and foundational principles of reading and numeracy.

Freshmen have mixed feelings about dorm life during COVID-19

Michigan State University allowed housing for an additional 2,500 students on campus during the spring semester.  

Photo of MSU freshman Maggie Neumaier in front of Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood. Freshman Maggie Neumaier moved into Bailey Hall in Brody Neighborhood. Neumaier said, “The reason I decided to move into the dorms is because I felt like I was missing out staying home. I already had friends up here, so I wanted to get the college experience in the dorms and move out here.” 

Neumaier said she enjoys living in the dorms, but the pandemic has made it hard to meet people because there are not a lot of students in the dorms.

She said, “My building is not very lively. It is very quiet here.”

MSU students living on campus have to follow health and safety measures.

Michigan high school students adjust to in-person classes

In-person high school classes in Michigan came back March 1, but in April, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was encouraging schools to go virtual again. East Lansing Public Schools have been offering in-person instruction for middle school and high school since March 1. 

John Sword, a sophomore at East Lansing High School, said online school came with a lot of difficulties and was hard to keep up with. After transitioning back to in-person classes, Sword said he feels incredible. 

He appreciates having an actual schedule and believes that in-person classes allow students to focus more and are easier to pay attention to. He also said the social aspect of high school improved greatly when they got back. “It felt amazing because I recently got my license and I was able to drive my friends to school and do all the fun stuff,” Sword said.

MSU students petition for summer 2021 graduates to walk in spring

Photo from @michiganstateu Instagram

On March 9, Michigan State University announced that summer graduates will have to wait until fall 2021 for their commencement ceremony. The ceremonies are for spring 2021 graduates only. 

MSU students have created a petition to let summer 2021 graduates walk. As of March 16, the petition has been signed by more than 1,600 people. 

Michigan State junior Melinda VanMensel said, “My adviser sent me an email that confirmed that I was getting pushed.”

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, Michigan State has decided to schedule multiple graduation ceremonies for each college April 30 through May 2 at various sites on campus. Each graduate will be allowed two guests. 

According to some students’ comments on the petition, many felt blindsided by the decision. 

Melinda VanMensel said, “Initially when I was told the news I was pretty annoyed and upset because I am technically a junior because I have only been in school for three years, so I have been pushing myself really hard to graduate early so that I could graduate with both my roommates who are a year older than me.” 

In the past, summer graduates at MSU were able to walk in the spring ceremony. 

There are other issues with summer graduates being pushed to the fall ceremony. Some are international students and will have already moved out.

Novi schools logo

Novi schools allow full return to in-person learning

The Novi school board on Feb. 18 approved a resolution to meet in person and discussed the full return plan for hybrid K-6 students attending in-person classes.

Superintendent Steve Matthews started the meeting by reading comments from the audience who shared concerns for returning back to school. Many questioned the safety of social distancing between students while being back in school. Others shared their disappointment with the school district creating a full return plan without seeking input from teachers.

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.