Clarkston Community Schools plans to go back to school in as much of a traditional school setting as possible. We are also considering the needs of our students, staff, and families and our first priority for returning to school is ensuring the physical and mental well-being of our school community.
On August 10, the Board of Education approved our Fall 2020 Return to School plan, which included Dr. Ryan's recommendation to begin the school year in a temporary district-wide distance learning contingency model (as opposed to face-to-face instruction in buildings) for all Y5-Grade 12 students. This is not a long-term plan, but a flexible, robust replacement for in-person learning for a brief period of time. For that reason, we are not setting an end-date for transitioning back to school buildings. We will re-evaluate on a weekly basis and adjust our plans accordingly.
District-Wide Contingency Plan: Distance Learning
The Clarkston Community Schools administration is monitoring virus data and public health in our community, and preparing for possible learning contingencies. If it is determined that Face-to-Face Instruction in schools poses a significant risk to our students and staff, our district may proactively move to a temporary district-wide Distance Learning for all students for a period of time. Distance Learning is not the same as our opt-in Clarkston Virtual program (which parents select for a semester or year), and it is not the "crisis schooling" model that we experienced in the Spring. Distance Learning in Clarkston is a temporary, robust replacement for a traditional face-to-face school environment in which classroom teachers would take attendance and lead instruction with students fully engaged at home for a specific period of time. With additional requirements provided by the state and in response to feedback from students, staff, and families, the Fall 2020 district-wide distance learning model will include the following elements:
- Our new 1:1 technology model (in which every student and teacher has use of a device), along with staff professional development and training, will ensure that a remote learning shift can happen swiftly and efficiently to maintain continuity of learning.
- Assessment, grading, daily attendance, and curriculum progress would remain consistent with in-person learning expectations.
- More daily, interactive, live/direct (synchronous) instruction and frequent contact with students' established classroom teachers.
- Activities, tasks, and assessments will be scheduled and required.
- Access to materials and progress/grades for both students and parents/guardians will be provided.
- Revised daily schedule that provides a structured learning plan for students and families.
- Ability to pivot back to Face-to-Face Instruction with little transitional time.
Obviously, all plans will be contingent on the realities we are facing when we reopen school. We will continue to take guidance from the State of Michigan, Oakland County Health Division, and the Centers for Disease Control to best support the health and safety of our students and employees.
According to the Governor's plan, in-person teaching and learning may occur five full-days of instruction a week if we are solidly in Phase 4 or 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan and trending toward continued improvement in virus spread. While this will look different from traditional school in order to meet safety standards, it is our intention to return students to classroom routines that are as close to the traditional model as possible.
- As mandated in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap, every student and staff member must wear a face mask when entering the building, unless a medical exception is provided. Medical documentation for a mask exception is required if a student is unable to wear a mask for any reason.
- Masks will be required for all staff district-wide and all students in Grades Y5-12 at all times except when socially distanced at lunch or outdoors. The decision to require masks for elementary students was made based on the district's responsibility to keep all students and staff safe, and keep schools open.
- With all staff and students wearing masks, one positive case in class will not necessitate that the entire class quarantines. Only close contacts (within 6 feet for 15 minutes or more without a mask) would need to quarantine.
- All employees will be provided with a washable, reusable cloth face mask to wear at all times in the building, though they may choose to wear any mask that is comfortable.
- According to the CDC, cloth face masks should be washed after each use.
- Teachers will be provided clear face shields for an added optional layer of protection (in addition to masks). According to state guidance, face shields may not take the place of a mask.
- Reusable masks will not be provided for students. Disposable masks will be available in all buildings for students who come to school without a face mask.
- Two Oakland County public health nurses will be designated to serve our district.
- Furniture will be spaced as far apart as possible.
- Daily schedules may be altered to minimize mixing of students.
- Classrooms will be cleaned and sanitized frequently.
- Opportunities for frequent handwashing will be provided. Education and training will be provided to ensure healthy hygiene habits for our students.
- Hand sanitizer will be made available in buildings and on buses.
- Signage will encourage distancing.
- Employees will self-screen each day prior to coming to school.
- Visitors will be limited and screened upon arrival.
1:1 Technology for All Staff & Students
Whether your family chooses face-to-face in-person instruction with the distance learning contingency, or the Clarkston Virtual program, we are proud to share that the Clarkston Board of Education recently approved a 1:1 technology program in which all Clarkston Community Schools students and teachers will be provided a district-owned device for the 2020-2021 school year.