The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education is meeting on Wednesday, October 28 at 7p. Follow along below with our live notes, watch the meeting live at the Zoom link or on CTV Channel 18, or check back later for our summary. The Agenda is available on BoardDocs with links to many of the presentations and supporting documents.
As per state guidelines, the Board needs to vote on the Extended Continuity of Learning Plan. The Board voted to continue learning in a fully remote environment.
The big topic of debate this week was the discussion on winter sports. Dr Swift shared a draft of a press release requesting MHSAA reconsider starting high school winter sports on schedule next week. She has currently put winter sports on hold throughout the district even though practices are allowed to start next week. The Board is hopeful but not optimistic that MHSAA will postpone the start of sports. If the MHSAA does not change the season, the Board will discuss and decide at the next meeting on November 11. Until then AAPS winter sports will not hold any activities or practices. Winter sports are particularly concerning because they are all indoors and close contact is part of several sports like basketball and wrestling.
AAPS started with a highlight of student and family supports, attendance, myOn Reading Library, Upbeat app for performing arts, and more. Of note is that while daily attendance dropped slightly the last two weeks especially at the high school level, some students missed classes each week due to SAT Testing.
COVID statistics updates. The cases continue to trend up both across the county, region, and state. Notably for the AAPS dashboard, this is the first time the positive test percentage has been outside of the range. Incases per million, Washtenaw County is a grade E, the poorest rating of the MI Safe Start Plan. The rate of rise in cases across the state is alarming public health officials and makes it harder to control. Not only are positive tests increasing, the state is seeing a rise in hospitalizations & critical care patients. Remember hospitalizations typically lag case data.
There have been 9 cases linked to AAPS since October 12. These are only individuals who have been on AAPS property. The district is aware of additional cases among AAPS students, staff, and families who have not been on AAPS property due to virtual learning. If we were in virtual these individuals would likely have been in AAPS classrooms.
The Board approved expenditures for road salt, snow removal, and emergency ductwork repair at Slauson.
Board: Johnson, Kelly Lazarus, Lightfoot, Baskett, Nelson, Gaynor
AAPS Staff & Guests: Dr Swift, Mr Cluley, Ms Osinski (Board Assistant), Ms Parks, Ms Linden, Dr Fidishin, Ms Bacolor,
Moment of Silence
The Board Meeting starts with a Moment of Silence for Rachel Salamone. Rachel Salamone was a Huron High School 12th grader who passed away on Monday, October 12. She was on the varsity women’s soccer team, co-editor of yearbook, and had many friends. She was also intelligent, kind, thoughtful and a positive influence on those who knew her.
Public Commentary has been added to the Meeting Agenda. Public Commentary is often truncated and read quickly due to time constraints. Two weeks ago, I missed public commentary and found it was much easier to share the link to the full commentary on the agenda than try to keep up.
Response from AAPS/Board
Dr Swift: I appreciate all the comments and it is important to . We will reach back to Ms Bishop. There was a speech therapist with a quick resignation. Dr Fidishin will be in contact.
We look forward to sharing work on AAPS Equity Plan. I do hear and understand concerns about students with special needs and we will be addressing more this evening including commitment to welcome them to transition to in person learning first with youngest students. And work to provide more support services now as we wait for opportunity in infection data to begin that small group work. It is a top priority for board and my team.
Johnson: We have not made decision for the full year and follow the data as it is laid out. It is not our intent. I look forward to an update on the data.
Report from Associations
Mr Cluely read a report from AAPAC (Ann Arbor Parent Advisory Committee for Special Education). They remind the board that some students due to their disability cannot participate virtually. WISD has issued guidelines for providing services
We ask that the board and AAEA present status for kids who cannot and have not been able to access curriculum virtually. Overwhelmingly this is students with IEP & 504 plans.
The full note is not yet on BoardDocs. Hopefully it will be added.
Lightfoot: Is there an opportunity to share what other districts are dong with special needs and it is so top of the radar.
Swift: Duly noted & we will follow up on your question
Update on Reimagine Learning Plan
Dr Swift provided updates on the Reimagine Learning/Continuity of Learning Plan including current metrics, supports.
Dr Swift: I do hear folks that we aren’t attending to student needs in lieu of health, but we are holding both those priorities. We do believe the best place for students is in the building and that is the goal. We are working with multiple meetings to ensure we are prepared to return to school. This includes protocols & process, preparation of buildings, operations (transportation & food service).
We are deep into Fall 2020 Virtual opening. Our work now is to monitor students and add supports as needed.
When we see students in need we are adding supports – social workers, speech pathologists, psychologists, physical therapists, occupational therapists, counselors, intervention specialists. They are fully deployed for those with special needs and all students struggling in virtual. This includes group outreach, academic small group instruction, small tutoring groups, one on one tutoring, mental health, and more. We are also ensuring recovery services for students.
We are working on a 3 option model – Fully Virtual, Hybrid, and Fully In Person. Before Hybrid we have a plan to slowly bring in students with highest needs and the most impacted.
Safety Net of Support for Children, Families, & Staff
Dr Swift provided updates:
Food Distributions currently served at 22 locations with 252 students served through Connections+ and other groups. There are 5 locations with evening distribution (4:30-6p). Emergency food distribution will continue through June 30,2021 – drive-thru, not ID. Serving about 2000 students per day.
School Supply distribution continues. They are looking at 2nd quarter distributions.
Winter giving – Many families have asked to help. Winter giving is a robust effort to provide gift cards, winter clothes & gifts. Learn more about how to give https://www.a2schools.org/wintergiving
Rec & Ed programming has had over 2000 K-8 students involved. Last week there was a free outdoors art class & ukelele class. Students wore masks and distanced. Winter activities will be announced shortly.
Nelson: I appreciate the public reminder of what is being done. I think people envision parents and child struggling alone and that is sometimes the case. But in many cases and to the degree we’er aware we are reaching out and trying to help. As Dr Swift mentioned it’s not just those who are certified special education, but other students as well. I don’t mean I’m not aware of the challenges of virtual learning. I share the feeling that we want to return to face to face. But I appreciate the description of the initial overview of efforts to reach out and help those who are struggling.
Ms Parks, Ms Linden, & Dr Fidisihin presented.
Ms Linden: We know there are challenges and are working to improve.
Ms Parks: Reminder that state legislation requires 75% of students interacting with teacher at least 2x/week. Rates are 95.87% in week 6 and 95.42% in week 7.
Our daily attendance measures are more rigorous than state tow way. We are following up with students not attending daily and figuring out what the need is.
Daily attendance averaged 91.54% in week 6 and 90.15% in week 7.
Students Outreach & Engagement supports
Virtual small groups supports focus on tutoring, organization, etc. We’re also working to connect socially over lunch, Wednesday, etc.
Community Centers & partners to help families with neighborhood community centers and getting them connected, tech needs, getting students engaged.
Directly engaging with parents in real time when students aren’t attending class. They’re doing things like dropping off alarm clocks and emphasizing responsiblity and also giving tips to parents.
Bridge to remedy technology needs and concerns that are barriers.
When we get to hybrid there will be more supports for the most at risk students.
Counselors and staff follow up daily for social emotional learning, mental health, basic needs, etc.
Community outreach with building staff members to drop off supplies – school supply kids, sensory supports like fidget items, wobble stools), and tech supplements.
Washtenaw County CARES is a 24/7 support hotline at 734-544-3050 that is available all the time – even when AAPS isn’t.
Connecting Together – a twice a month drop-in support group for AAPS parents & guardians. They meet the second Tuesday from 7:30-8:30 and the 4th Thursday (1-2p). Groups are also being established through district SEL community.
One of the most important things we do is to reach out to families and be flexible to make sure they know they are wanted and supported.
Dr Fidishin: SISS and General Education updates.
We are pusing in support into regular education classrooms to make sure they access and understand the content. Teachers and paraprofessionals can push students into break out rooms for support.
Special education teams are developing individualized instructional materials and resources for students with IEPs or suspected of having a disability, through Good Faith Effort Plans/Continuity Learning Plans. It helps identify strategist and skill development to ensure students receive services and education the the best possible.
Creating individual visual schedules for children & families to ease access and timing. This helps students attend and transition to new activities and helps families aid them with this.
Small group and individualized instruction toward IEP goals. It can be based on individual day as needed by what is working.
Enhanced supports – all students receive social/emotional learning opportunities designed by psychologists, social workers, counselors, and intervention specialists. At least one daily activity focused on SEL.
One to one supplemental support complementing class and small group as needed.
Virtual environment has allowed us to engage across the district. The adaptive physical education has embraced this through a “World Cup Competition”. Across the schools the teams have interacted via digital platform and competing to see which team can win the virtual world cup for adaptive physical education. This is new for virtual, we couldn’t do this in face to face.
We have increased professional development of paraprofessionals for support and connection to online students.
There is also increased direct interaction between intervention specialists and families needing additional support.
Family Supports: AAPS Parent/Guardian Support Groups was started by school psychologists and social workers. It gives parents the chance to interact with each other. They are working on getting bilingual groups up & started. There are also On Demand Family Supports to help families address needs (I could not find the link, I’ll keep looking)
Ms Linden: Making Teaching & Learning Accessible. With shifting to a completely online system, we understood there would be inequities. We are working on our lens and designign lessons around 5 pilllars:
- Identity & Achievement
- Equity & Excellence
- Developmental Appropriateness
- Teaching the Whole Child
- Student Teacher Relationships
In Schoology, there is a Standard Course design. There is a consistent location for call calendar, class meeting links, past work, colors for daily folders. Schoology was launched for equity with a predictable path to learning especially for secondary students with multiple teachers.
In lesson design, we started the year with prepared lessons. They focused on universal design for learning – multiple modes of engagement, representation, and expression. And using the Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.
They showed an example of Engaging Students Online with a video of Ms Greene from Tappan Middle School’s 8th grade science. She calls on students and let them explain. Then showed a sticky note app. Students post comments then they put checks on what other students have commented. Ms Jackson from Logan was shown in an AAPS new story. She acknowledges the challenges parents have and relates as she’s had to leave her class to talk among themselves to briefly help her own daughter solve an issue.
Access to Technology & Internet: 16650 devices and 348 hotspots distributed and 18 families to receive Comcast Essential Sponsorship. It is reduced cost internet. AAPS is covering the $10/month for these families. If you don’t have internet please call helpdesk: 734-997-1222. Jason Kitchen is skilled at helping signup and get on internet. M-Th 1-7:30p and Friday 1-5p. But will get help and assistance if call outside that time.
They showed a sample of the French Horn section of Pioneer’s Band using Upbeat. They discuss and practice in a breakout room, then head to the Upbeat app to individually record which pulls them into one ensemble recording. They are planning performances. They have heard positive feedback and shared a quote from a Pioneer band parent whose son is happy in band and had been considering dropping it. The change in learning style has reinvigorated his love of music.
Renaissance myOn Digital Library Update is in full swing at K-5 for small group and personal reading. It is used in 22 buildings, by 8297 students, 695 faculty. 23,734 books have been finished with 6285 hours and 18 minutes have been spent reading. The next step is to bring preschool on board for about $800 to purchase preschool developmentally appropriate books.
Sora Digital Library is live now! It has been rolled out via ELA teachers to middle schoolers. It will be rolled out to all students shortly. Families will be able to access from home and there will be a video available soon. It is another piece of the equity commitment.
Ms Parks: Flexible Learning Paths – Our most important goal is reaching out to families and making sure we are meeting their needs.
Questions on Academic Update:
Kelly: Parent Supoprt Groups – it can be daunting to walk into a group you don’t know what is happening. Is tehre a way to know what topics will be discussed at that meeting. Maybe needing help with hgih schoolers and the whole meeting is about elementary.
Fidishin: Yes there is a specific topic for each meeting. The current flyer does’t reflect that. Unfortunately many time we have more interest than space. We keep it at under 10 parents. We want it to be a safe place. They started in spring and many parents have continued networking outside the group.
Kelly: I don’t know if it’s MyOn or Sora. If a teacher wanted to teach a particular title, can they request a title.
Linden: Yes, they are. It is one reason we launched with ELA at the middle school level. Teachers are working around equity. They’ve realize that choosing one book for all students may not meet the needs of all students. Yes, we can get 30 copies and turn around in 24 hours if needed (we do like more lead time). Instead they’re laying out 6-8 titles and letting students select their group. It lets them select to meet their culture and interest.
Kelly: Is it clear to teachers who they would need to contact for a title or to setup a small reading group.
Linden: We’re working on it. It’s almost a separate role. We don’t really know yet what the workload would be, but there are team members ding that work now. We are also working on equity and want to make sure they’re available to all in the district and instead of just the schools with extra funds to purchase books.
Nelson: I’d like to comment and then have a question. I appreciate the work done even as we realize it is stimulated by our recognition of the problems and we’re working to mitigate as much as we can until we get back to face to face. Some of this is so exciting, I expect we’ll find useful even when we are back to face to face.
In regard to attendance, I saw that high school percent seems to be somewhat declining (not that it is low levels). Does anyone have observation on potential reasons.
Linden: There are a few things. What we notice is it is really in the last 2 weeks. The week of 10/14 and 10/21 one full day in each was optional SAT testing. So students weren’t in attendance at classes. That is part of it and we are looking to verify that is the cause.
Lazaurs: On the first presentation, slide 9 about the food distribution and the Connections+. In public commentary that parents wre saying that it is non-esxistend. But here it clearly states there are 250 students at 22 location. Can you expound on the program. Is it at capacity, are we expanding?
Swift: To clarify, the food distribution is over 22 locations. There are a small number of locations for Connections+. This is phase 1 of Connections+ by partnering with community centers. I hear concern because we all want more access and opportunity for this type of support. There are about 250 students receiving supports. We look forward to a next phase and working to figure out how to do that with other limitations to invite more students in.
Gaynor: One clarification from Dr Fidishin, we know how hard it is to supply special ed services to meet an IEP under these circumstances. My understanding is the good faith effort was required this spring and ended in June. Can you clarify
Fidishin: The state hadn’t really waived IEPs per say and that ended in June. When we went in pandemic mode there was a significant amount of information that came and went between MDE & office of special education programming. It was constantly evolving for us. By the time we had firmly established guidance we had to proceed with IEPS and we did tat. For the Continuity of Learning Plans, we initiated Good Faith Effort Learning plans we wanted to ensure to parents and students and community that we were providing services. As we proceeded to fall and got updated guidance from MDE and office of Civil Rights, we continued doing Good Faith Efforts. Our first priority is to try to implement in the current setting. What we’re providing in fall is different than spring. If we were unable to provide a full free appropriate public education, those students are the ones getting the continuous learning plans.
Gaynor: I like the phrase working under continuing improvement. I know some changes have been made and more upcoming. Dr Swift if you can review these changes. Idid hear a dissonant note with the phrase developmentally appropriate. I’m wondering how we’re covering that with kindergarteners since I don’t think that work with no child left behind meets that.
Johnson: For Ms Parks, this piggybacks on Nelson’s question on attendance measurements. I see we were around 90% by our metrics, not the state 2 way. How does 90% compare to typical in person year. I assume we rarely have 100% attendance.
Parks: I would have to check. That is a good question. I don’t know what that number is in a typical, normal year.
Johnson: Dr Fidisin for the connecting parents group the slide said second Tuesday and fourth Thursday, but you said every week.
Fidishin: Yes, you are right it is once a month. We wanted to ensure we had times and days that were different.
Baskett: For Dr Fidishin, I want to clarify that we said we wanted small groups fewer than 10 parents. Are there multiple gorpus. While 10 is an ideal nubmer that’s not ideal for the number of parents we have.
Fidishin: Yes, we do have multiple groups going at that time. Multiple staff members run at that time. We’ll be getting further information on bilingual groups for example English Speaking, Spanish Speaking, Arabic Speaking. As we continue, I’d be happy to provide information on parents registering/requesting vs those participating.
Baskett: I’d also encourage a free for all time for parenst to ask a question instead of sitting through a session. Maybe a group where parents can just drop in.Some parents don’t want to commit to a set day and week.
Fidishin: I appreciate that. To be truthful, the initial meetings were just drop-in and parents bringing up topics. That helped team develop topics to highlight each session.
Baskett: I just want to clarify that our staff supports all families no matter where they are, even if they are a school of choice student living outside the boundaries of AAPS.
Swift: Trustee Baskett I would add that we also have a number of families displaced in housing situation. They are all over the area. I appreciate efforts of our team to make sure they have what they need.
COVID Health Update
Swift: On Monday we got a lot of information at MDHHS COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable on Monday as things are changing rapidly in the state. We are trying to do 3 things. 1 – Learn about new information, 2 – Get context for what is happening in our County , AAPS zip codes, 3 – What it looks like across Michigan. That will lead us to the recommendation and other parts of our plan for fall.
Bacolor: The Roundtable started with troubling new information about the pandemic in Michigan. Cases per million have increased steeply. At the beginning we saw trends where one area would be high while others would have few. What we’re experiencing now is increases throughout the state in all regions. It makes managing spread of disease hard. The magnitude and sped of this increase is unlike anything we’ve seen since spring. Since summer we have seen a shift to younger people infected especially in 0-29 age group and now seeing increase in other groups like 30-39 years affecting working. Younger people are less severe and possibly more likely to be asymptomatic. They’re more likely to be mobile and out in the world. Southern US saw increases in 20-39 followed by increases in >60 year olds after 1-2 weeks. The large contacts in younger age group make contact tracing har.er
How can we prepare for winter? We need to understand transmission. It can be accumulation of brief contacts. Avoid large gatherings. They boost the infection with more exposure points in the community. Manage spread with small groups.
AAPS Metrics & Local Data: Data retrieved Friday morning, but we’ve had 200 new cases since Friday. We are now in E, the highest level of risk. Similarly, new cases per 100K are up and so is positivity rate to 3.7%
Cases per million are almost triple of our highest range of consider at local, region, and state. Cses per 100K is similar. The positivity rate was a success story in the county for a while, but we are now at 3.7% vs 1.5% last week. State is at 5% positivity.
Hospitalization data has been requested. It does remain low in the county, but is is increasing and is a lag indicator. State data has increased for 4 weeks including increase in ICU & ventilators. There were no hospitalizations among 0-18 year olds.
AAPS Zip Codes. 57 cases in 48103 from 10/8-10/21 up from 19 the prior 2 weeks (9/24-10/7), 48105 21 vs 8 and 28 vs 7 in 48108.
When I talk to Health Department about what is driving. They are seeing clusters in workplaces, adults with indoor social gatherings, churches/weddings, adults using masks part of the time.
Looking at ages comparing the same 2 week span (10/8-10/21 vs 9/24-10/7):
- 0-9 8 vs 2
- 10-17: 25 vs 10
- 23-29 66 vs 19
That’s all I got before she moved on.
AAPS cases we have had a busy week with 5 staff & student cases since Monday. 2 at Pioneer and 3in Transportation. That is 9 cases since 10/12. There are 8-10 in quarantine with more pending based on contact tracing.
How has increased community spread impacted AAPS. That’s less than 1/3 of what I know of. We know of more cases among district staff, students, and families. More staff, students, & families are in quarantine due to contacts in other places. We see it in household member, co-workers, local youth teams, social & family gatherings.
School district response: Updated staff prescreening tool, strengthened internal case notification system, updated training for critical staff, frequent work with the county health department
Ms Bacalor shared a quote from Dr Khaldun: “There’s no question that the enemy here is the virus”
Questions on COVID Update
Gaynor: Ther are stil reports going that returnign to school doesn’t ersult in community spread. Your resonse to that.
Bacolor: Yes, there is some information that says that. But we could also frame it that other countries have prioritized getting schools, instead of bars and restaurants.
Gaynor: Dr Swift is there anything you can say about winter sports
Swift: That’s coming int he next section.
Nelson: It’s an old question, and I’m not expecting change. Testing and tracing has from the beginning been looked at as part of a strategy to handle spread. What is our potential for testing and tracing especially in the context of reopening.
Swift: I’m glad you brought that up. It was in my notes to share with you. I’ve had 2 key and critical conversations about the possibility to get a comprehensive testing and tracing program in place. We know one of the examples of what Trustee Gaynor mentioned other locations to open was not only reduced level of infection but also robust have posed the question to the state health department and they are introducing rapid testing. They want to hold that first for nursing homes and facilities of that nature. We have requested that K-12 be in that list particularly more urban system with special challenges and remain virtual – us, Kalamazoo, Lansing, and others. testing and tracing program. We don’t feel it will be quickly transpiring.
Bacolor: Yes ,having a strategic testing and tracing plan would change things for us.People are doing it in other parts of the country. It takes a lot of funding. logistics, and expertise. We need big partners to do this.
Nelson: It’s very expensive and probably impossible for one district to do this effectively especially with no new funding. We really do need leadership at a larger scale and that would be helpful.
I’m among those we have said we need to learn with COVID but not at just any old rate of infection in society. As I look at that curve, with exponential increase and look to the near future, we have Halloween, UM vs MSU, election which may attract significant numbers of people. Right now would be an especially dangerous time to say we should move. In northern climates, I really do believe we need to learn to live with winter, but if I’m on the Ohio turnpike and returning home to Ann Arbor and hitting Lake effect snow in the Cleveland area and it’s getting worse and someone says where should we eat when we get to Ann Arbor I say it’s not the right time. We don’t know what it will be like 10-30 minutes from now. I think we’re in that period now. Things are getting worse fast. There are events that to me create the potential for the curve to keep on increasing. At a minimum we need some stability and ideally reduction before we can move face to face. I’m still conscious of most vulnerable and youngest kid, but it isn’t the best time to make a decision about tomorrow.
Kelly: At some point we’ll go from novel pandemic mode to endemic mode. We don’t know when that will be. What types of those factors would lead the team to change metric. To be clear I think our metrics are correct for this stage in time.
Swift: The bottom of the dashboard says emerging research and information would cause a review of the tool. We are looking forward to a day we get to review the tool in light of getting to open schools. So far, the updates on research to possibly have changed some things. The Governor’s executive order around cleaning of surfaces is an example. Early on it was felt surfaces were critically important. They’re still important but we at we know now is the person to person interaction – air, talking, proximity that is most important. If we were to update the executive order today, it would have a heavier weight on aerosol transmission – the things we talked about with building preparation last week. It doesn’t necessarily allow different metrics but to change our protocols.
Kelly: I think that’s important for folks to hear that we’re not going to cling to something because we wrote it down once. My other question on slide 15 maybe, I noticed cases by age group that the ranges of ages are not consistent – not 10 years. Of course 30-64 has a bigger range than 23-29 can you explain why.
Bacolor: Age groups are defined by Health Department. It’s one of the state and national problems. Different jurisdictions use different age ranges.
Kelly: Do you know why?
Bacolor (somewhat jokingly): I was thinking because that’s our teacher range.
Kelly: I was wondering because that is our teachers & in many cases our parents.
Baskett: I want to go back to the thought of student spillover (cases of transmission from UM students to the community).
Bacolor: The way spillover is determined is through contact tracing. Talking to people in our other zip codes and tracing where infection happens. What the county said is they only found 1-2 cases where there was a tie to undergraduate cases on campus. This was as of last Tuesday. The local public health order for stay at home of UM students stated there hasn’t been spread from campus to community.
Baskett: We have to acknowledge not all undergrads live on campus. They live at home and other places. My comment about testing. Iddi some research. On Monday I contacted Packard Health Clinic. They have drive-by testing on the east side of Ypsilanti. Walk up staff said results in 3-7 days and you need an account through a portal and need internet access. Today that result time is now 14-21 days. Tat makes me very very nervous. That’s a big difference. That’s just one site. I have friends looking at other sites. Is one lab faster, does insurance matter? That’s a significant difference. Some employers are now not forgiving about requested time off for quarantine from a on-contact and some employers won’t pay for the leave time. It’s important we have testing.
Are chilrden being tested?
Bacolor: Children are only tested if there is a positive among a family members And maybe tested if they have symptoms. Often times physicians aren’t ordering it. I know of a few children who have tested positive and they’ve been connected to a family member.
Baskett: Just another consdieration is our buildings are used for many other things. We have to address that when they’re open again.
Lazarus: I recently had an elective surgery and had to have a COVID test before. My question is we show we’re testing but these aren’t necessarily related to people who think they might have COVID or may have been exposed. Doesn’t that change skew the testing data?
Bacolor: All of the testing is included. If we had a national testing strategy. In a way it functions as a surveillance testing for the community.
Lazaurs: More clarification on slide 17 – we’re aware of more cases among district staff, students, & families. But we’re not reporting those on our dashboard. That confuses me. Where ist hat reported? Why are we not reporting them? It’s not necessarily the whole story.
Swift: That is the weakness of the Michigan school report on Mondays. Those are only logged by the directive if it was transmitted at school. So there are many cases that are logged through the county but they are not on the school report. It doesn’t represent the full data of the community. The county data does represent the full picture
Bacolor: To talk about our own dashboard. We are mandated to record any case that involves a person who has been on our campus in the past 2-3 weeks or so. They came to work, or athletics. But, we’ve heard of other cases. We’ve heard from families that another family member tested positive can my child come take SAT. No they can’t. We hear about them because people tell us. It’s more anecdotal, not scientific. If people are remote working and contract COVID, we don’t report that if they haven’t been on campus. We don’t legally have to report quarantine, only probable and confirmed cases.
Lightfoot: Can you speak to hospitalization as it relates to our team or effects of that nature.
Bacolor: We have had people connected with AAPS who have been hospitalized. We have had a staff member hospitalized for a bout a week who is now recovering at home but still very sick.
Lightfoot: That’s tracked where and how? It’s not differentiated in that information
Bacolor: Through our relationships in our school community we are aware of that, but it is not in the report.
Baskett: All this talk about circles and contacts is making me more nervous. Can you talk about staffing and getting contact. Are people calling back, does the county have enough people, how does everyone keep updated.
Bacolor: Our internal process I need to give a huge shoutout to head nurse Keely Hoffman. She is primary case investigator. When we are alerted she calls them usually within an hour and goes through the questions. We provide the health department with the critical information to make their job easier.
Baskett: is the health deaprtment going to be adding staff?
Bacolor: I heard they hired more already in the fall and I heard a rumor they will hire more.
Johnson: It’s more of a comment. On slides 9 & 10 I noticed that you joked about bar graph but I think they show the flexibility built into our dashboard. We have a target using third party research and took a more liberal target in those ranges and then have a higher limit that we would consider. I now there was a comment about whether we are sticking to the one metric and sticking to it. We have some flexibility built in. One thing that concerns me is the testing availability. As we talk into how flexible there is no metric that talks about testing availability or tracing and those are key features of a safe open. For those who are safety, we do get a lot of emails that are pleased we are still closed even though they aren’t part of public commentary. We do have metrics but are also giving ourselves some qualitative wiggle room. We can’t just make a decision that we’re going back to full face to face and make the data fit that. At the 16th of September we were close to those goals. I do hope we stick to the process and look at the information and use our judgement. I’m frustrated too. A lot of us have kids doing virtual school too.
Call to Action
Dr Swift: We are going to make our recommendation as a result of the high level and upward trend particularly over the last 14 days and our current rating at Level E on MI Safe Start, and the increase of cases along all metrics, it is our recommendation to continue to virtual learning status. and continue to update the AAPS dashboard weekly and work to impolement additional supports and services including small group turoting.
We review data daily, update board weekly, update AAPS data dashboard at least once each week. Once metrics approach considering level, we will confer with board and team and make community aware. We will continue to work to ensure readiness for buildings and employee groups.
Calls to Action for Congress for resources to support & ensure needed PPE for schools, readily available and timely testing & tracing, technology & Connectivity should be a public utility.
High School Winter Sports
As trustee Gaynor noted, I am sharing a press release tomorrow about winter athletics. We know health and safety is our top priority. We’ve reiterated it. Participating in athletic practices and competitions and enriching life experience it brings inherent risk. We have to balance the value and benefits alongside our responsibility to protect student athletes, parents, staff, and community especially as state experiences dramatic increase. Late last week you saw MHSAA announced Winter Sports will start on time starting next week (first week of November). TO be clear those winter sports include girls & boys basketball, bowling, cheer, competitive cheer, ice hockey, boys swim & dive, synchronized swimming, and wrestling. This decision from MHSAA causes significant concern, not only for AAPS but across Michigan. With significant rise in cases, this decision feels reckless. Reports show an increase in COVID cases and hospitalization across Michigan. Dr Khaldoun’s recent statement was this was a magnitude unlike anything seen prior in COVID crisis. In addition tot he inherent risk of sports, all of these are indoor activities and competitions. Therefore, we are calling on MHSAA to reevaluate their intention to open winter sports next week. To be clear, we have placed a hold on any winter activity or sports competition. There is no activity in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, but we are calling on MHSAA in the interest of health and safety. We’ve seen story after story of teams unable to finish their season due to COVID infections. We are asking MHSAA to reevaluate and delay winter sports season until it is safer and healthier to participate.
In addition I am calling on districts in our county, Southeast Conference and across Michigan to join together in delaying winter sports season. It will allow us to wait until it is safer.
Election Day Preparations & Message
In our school buildings we are home to 24 polling locations in our school buildings (and more precincts) and all those who are working to make sure this election goes well in our county.
(And I missed the rest as my daughter came to check in before bedtime)
Winter Sports Discussion
Nelson: A copule of questions on the MHSAA> I fully support the initiateive to move winter sports to spring. Is my unertsnding correct that there ia nother decision as to wehterh Ann Arbor will have winter sports in teh district which is relevant only if there is not a statewide tomove them.In that case where hte unfortante thing happens that it isnt moved then there is a second decision.
Swift: Yes, our desire this week is to compel an appropriate change for every high school athlete in Michigan especially since the infection is not in certain areas. It would greatly benefit students if MHSAA would take this appropriate step. But if they are unwilling to do so, I will make a recommendation and based on tonight’s data I think it’s clear what that will have to be?
Nelson: Do you anticipate giving trustees input prior to that decision
Swift: I appreciate that question. Our next meeting is on November 11. Unless the trustees schedule something before then, that would be our next opportunity for discussion.
Nelson: Is that timing adequate for people involved in sports to take action? Or do we need to schedule a special meeting for a smooth transition for those people who care intensely about this.
Swift: If the trustees want to share feedback this evening, I am open to that. I felt like the first appropriate step was to get the systemic change. But if that is the will of the board we are open to that.
Nelson: My personal position is I agree with getting the systemic solution. I’m not particularly inclined to analyze the hypothetical. But fi my fellow trustees would like to, I would be happy to do it. In fairness to everyone involved I would like to have a discussion of what we’ve learned in the fall.
Swift: There are two key decision between fall and winter – Rates of infection are about 2-3x what we faced in August/September and where many of those were outdoors, these are all indoor activities.
Gaynor: I want to press the issue. My understanding is practice starts very soon. As much as hope, I doubt MHSAA will change. I’d like to suggest holding off on practices and events until after the winter holidays.
Swift: Just to clarify all activities and practices are currently on hold.
Lazarus: I too agree with what Trustee Nelson said. If it needs to go to the second stage and advocacy with MHSAA isn’t successful, I would be interested in understanding what we learned from fall. Some of the protocols we figured out as we went along to implement some safe activity. I know indoor sports especially wrestling and basketball, the pros can’t do it (unless they isolated themselves at Disney World).
Do we have support from other districts to do the same so they feel pressure from other districts?
Swift: That is an excellent question that is difficult to answer. It is very common across the state that superintendents, athletic directors, etc have concerns. Whether folks are willing to step back from the opportunity because of those concerns is where the question is. Particularly based on the last 7 days we are hoping to get some momentum. Our team is ready to address what we’ve learned. The concern with wrestling and basketball and our guideline to be in school is 6′ of separation that is impossible with basketball and wrestling. I don’t believe there is any scenario where I could bring you a recommendation to move forward in coming weeks.
Johnson: I’d like to say you said it tactfully I understand the desire to have data from the fall, but it seems like apples to orange to compare with outdoors vs indoor and hte ifnection rate as well. I hestitate to have your team spend critical time making that report. Trustee Gaynor brought this up and us talking about what we’re going to do. We’re the board and we should be making this decision. TO the extent to which we can’t fathom a hypothetical where this is possible – and I was a wrestler. I couldn’t do it from 6 feet away. I would not support moving ahead with winter sports even if the MHSAA pressure doesn’t work. I feel the need to give Dr Swift some guidance on this.
Kelly: Just because you asked for specific thoughts. I’ll reiterate what I said when we discussed. I’m not in favor of indoor winter sports going forward with or without the rest of the state. There’s one thing about outside in the sunshine vs indoor and higher contact, they’re just not the same thing. My priority for the district is health and safety and getting kids back to learning. We need to make that our priority. We knew we were starting virtual. In fall, it wouldn’t impact classmates because we were virtual and it was parent option. When we’re this far out from the winter season and we’re hoping to get back in the classroom, I don’t see how they work together.
Nelson: Since we have moved into the second decision. I’ll say a couple things why it isn’t quite as clear to me. We talked about our criteria for bringing students back. One of them is small groups. And I was also a wrestler also. The wrestling team ins not an enormous group of student. The second criteria is volunteers. I don’t think we should be forcing anyone to coach a team. I expect the experience from the fall is that no coaches were forced to coach and no students were forced to participate. For me it satisfies the volunteer criteria. If we can’t get a coach to coach, we can’t do it. What it doesn’t satisfy is vulnerable or young. They aren’t in the category of young or vulnerable, but they are volunteers 100%.
Lazarus: Since we’re having this small discussion, I want to express the reason I’m kind of hesitating on this and I don’t know if it’s possible. I see the wrestling problem It’s a very contact sport even with a mask. Tackle football was very contact sport. You’re right there in some of the positions. We made it through that. Basketball is a little different. Theres a little more space. I don’t know if we can do certain sports or if it is all or nothing. I feel like if I had a little more time thinking about spectators when we had the conversation about fall sports, I may have voted a little differently. Understanding how parents would be hanging out on the outside skirts of the fence , but I didn’t process it in a quick manner. Now that we’ve been in different stadiums, ad distancing, talked to parents and how it worked in other stadiums, I feel like it’s not as cut and dry as we may have thought. As Trustee Nelson said it is a small group of volunteer sports. Liek swimming we had it in the fall too. I don’t know if it is all or nothing. I don’t know which way I’ll go. It helps me hear other trustees thoughts if it comes to where we have to make a decision.
Johsnon: I thik we’re a little split. Dr Swift can you share with us wht the deadlines are – when practices can start, when games start.
Swift; There are no deadlines per say. We’ve placed everything on hold pending the endeavor to appeal to MHSAA. They are supposed to begin some activities next week, but we’ve made it clear we are delay status at this time. What I’d like to do is wrap back to the trustees with an update when we know more from the MHSAA and if the trustees want to have a vote at the table as we talked about in fall, we will do that. Otherwise I feel it is my responsibility to run the district in the safest and most appropriate way. I respect the trustees have expressed their willingness to vote and help carry the load. I’m fine wrapping back and moving forward. I’m also fine if we have a board meeting on this special topic.
Johnson: Can we hold pending MHSAA decision and have a discussion after that is made.I don’t know how quickly they would respond or not.
Swift: Start dates are 11/2 to 11/23. Our meeting on the 11th sounds like it would be appropriate. Those were practice start dates, not competition. I’ve had confirmation from Mr DeAngelis that the 11th would be fine for a decision.
At the last meeting on October 14 first briefings were provided on a number of items. The second briefing will be held prior to votes on these items. There are n o changes ot the items on the agenda
Gaynor: Asked abou thte status of the air purifiers metnitoneda tt he studey session last week.
Swift: They’re trying some prototypes, researching acquisition, pipeline. We’re not ready to move forward with a first briefing just yet.
Consent Agenda Voting
The Board will vote on the entire slate of the Consent Agenda:
- Road Salt Purchase
- Snow Removal Contract
- Slauson Emergency Ductwork Repair
- Approve meeting minutes from October 14
Consent Agenda was motioned for approval by Kelly and seconded by Gaynor.
Motioned carried with unanimous support. Trustee Lightfoot did not vote, I think she is off the call.
There are two board action items to be covered.
Monthly Confirmation of COVID-19 Extended Continuity of Learning Plan
Moved by Trustee Lazarus and seconded by Gaynor. The resolution was read prior to voting
1. That the Board re-confirms the delivery of instruction provided for in the District’s Extended COVID-19 Learning Plan;
2. That the Board directs the Superintendent or her designee to report to CEPI, in the form and manner prescribed by CEPI, the instructional delivery method that was reconfirmed; how that instruction will be delivered for each grade level offered by the district, including prekindergarten, as applicable; and whether or not, as determined by the department in consultation with the center, the district is offering higher levels of in-person instruction for English language learners, special education students, or other special populations.
3. That each month, the District will re-confirm how instruction is going to be delivered during the 2020-2021 school year at a meeting of the Board, and at said meeting the District will solicit public comment from the parents and legal guardians of students enrolled in the District.
There was no discussion.
Voting: The resolution unanimously passed.
Motion to hold a Closed Session
The Board is asking to hold a closed session on November 5 at 2p to have a discussion with the lawyer items that are covered by Attorney Client Privilege.
Motioned by Trustee Nelson and Seconded by Kelly.
Gaynor: Does the public need to know what it pertains to.
Johnson: No it is attorney client privilege
Vote: Unanimously Approved.
Motioned by Baskett and seconded by Lazarus.
Meeting is adjourned at 11:05p