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Clarkston Community School District

From Superintendent Ryan: Fall 2020 Return to School Update

From Superintendent Ryan: Fall 2020 Return to School Update

Dear Clarkston Community Schools Families,

In my letter last Friday, I shared a very broad, high-level overview of our Fall 2020 Return to School learning options: Face-to-Face Instruction (in-person) and Clarkston Virtual (at-home). I also invited your questions and feedback via email at

As we continue to process through the questions we have received from students, staff, and parents, I am reminded of this quote that I come back to in times of uncertainty:

"Faith is taking the first step even when you can't see the whole staircase."
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I recognize the fair amount of anxiety that stems from the uncertainty surrounding our return to school. No one was given a playbook for this pandemic (and if we had, it would have been rewritten a few dozen times by now). The best we can do is put one foot in front of the other with the faith that our experience, collaboration, and collective wisdom will shine a light on the most logical next step.

Here are some of the steps we have taken in the past week:

  • We visited elementary and secondary schools and rearranged the furniture in a few test classrooms to envision the space. We assessed outdoor areas and large group learning spaces that can be utilized. We also ran through the process and timing necessary to clean and sanitize surfaces between classes.
  • We connected with the Oakland County Health Division and learned that we can expect a detailed school health and safety toolkit in the next week or two. In the absence of this toolkit for the immediate time being, we are moving our plans forward with specific guidance provided by the Kent County Health Department (Grand Rapids). If the OCHD recommendations deviate from the Kent County protocols, we will update our plan accordingly. In the meantime, please visit the Frequently Asked Questions section of our Fall 2020 website for answers to your questions about:
      • Student and employee screening
      • Response to positive COVID-19 cases
      • Isolating and quarantining
  • Director of Special Programs Ken Janczarek answered your questions about Clarkston Virtual on our website and created sample weekly schedules for elementary, middle school, and high school students to give families a better understanding of what this program offers. We also enrolled more than 175 Clarkston families this week. For staffing purposes, we are asking families to complete Clarkston Virtual enrollment forms by August 7, if possible. If you need more time, that's OK, too. We expect to be accepting Clarkston Virtual enrollments into early September.
  • We provided an update for families with IEPs and will be reaching out in the weeks ahead for further contact.
  • Lastly, we produced a graphic to provide more clarity on the six phases of the Governor's MI Safe Start Plan and what they mean to our school district. Take a look.

We're taking these steps on the faith that the current public health climate will be stable in Phase 4. To date, the majority of our energy has been spent working on a Phase 4 return to school buildings, including plans for lunch, recess, specials, and electives like music, extracurricular activities, and campus visitor protocols. We are prepared to share those plans with you next week with continued faith that we'll be able to return to school in as much of a traditional setting as possible.

That said, according to the Governor's definition, in Phase 4, "the epidemic is clearly decreasing." From where I stand today, I have concerns about our stability in this Phase. We must continue to prepare for the possibility that our Phase 3 distance learning contingency model would be required to protect the health and safety of our students, staff, and families.We are watching the numbers, listening to expert guidance from state and local officials, and your feedback.

As we conceptualize all possible scenarios, we ask families to do the same. Please take time to make your own contingency plan in the event we are not able to safely bring everyone back in five weeks, keeping in mind things like childcare and your ability to support your child's learning at home.

In the meantime, please also continue to share your questions and feedback at I look forward to connecting with you next week when we know more.


Shawn Ryan, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools

About Clarkston Community Schools: Clarkston is a highly regarded school district with an enrollment of nearly 7,100 students. We have seven elementary schools (K-5), one middle school serving grades 6-7, one junior high for grades 8-9, and Clarkston High School, which serves students in grades 10-12. We also have an Early Childhood Center serving children ages 3-5, and an alternative high school/community education facility. Clarkston Community Schools students are well-prepared for a future that excites them, and believe that they can achieve their dreams. The mission of Clarkston Community Schools is to create a learning environment where students, staff, and families are challenged, healthy, engaged, safe, and supported.

Read more Clarkston Community Schools News at

Media Contact: Mary Ellen Rowe, Marketing Director (248) 623-5460.