July 15 - Ann Arbor Board of Education Meeting Notes

Notes from Ann Arbor Public Schools Board Meeting – July 15

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education will be holding meetings on Wednesday evenings from July 15-29 as they work through plans for Fall 2020.

About the Ann Arbor Board of Education Meetings

The AAPS School Board meeting starts at 6p. The School Board Meeting.


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There are several ways to join the meeting live:

  • CTN
    • Comcast channel 18
    • AT&T Channel 99 (although I don’t know which CTN channel they broadcast)
    • The CTN website
  • Zoom (viewer broadcast)

If you missed the original broadcast, you can watch it now on the Government Meeting’s website.

Meeting Agenda

The agenda for the meeting can be found on the Board of Education’s Public Document.

This meeting will focus on Public Commentary, a report from the Ann Arbor Education Association (the teacher’s union)

Upcoming Meetings

This is the first of several meetings scheduled before school returns on August 31

  • Wednesday, July 22 – 6p – Study Session
  • Wednesday, July 29 – 6p – Regular Meeting
  • Wednesday, August 12 – 7p Regular Board Meeting
  • Wednesday, August 19 – Time TBD – Board Retreat
  • Wednesday, August 26 – Regular Board Meeting

I expect to learn more about the district’s plans for Fall 2020 in the study session on July 22 with details hopefully announced around the July 29 meeting.


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Notes from The July 15, 2020 Board of Education Meeting

The purpose of our notes are to capture the key points of the meeting as it relates to parents and children. We will be predominately focusing on the parts of the meeting that affect students and parents. After the meeting, this information will be added to our AAPS Fall 2020 Plans article.

These notes are being taken live as the meeting airs. Please excuse any typos or mis-interpretations, (or my guesses at spelling the names of those who submitted public commentary).. You will need to refresh this screen to see updates.

  • Attendees: Gaynor, Lightfoot, Kelly, Nelson, Baskett, Johnson & Non-voting members Dr Swift, Cluley

Public Commentary

  • Kauffman – We need in person school. Please consider adjusting the schedule to start later when at least partial in person school can happen. Online learning furthers the gap between rich and poor students especially among families with essential workers trying to find childcare.
  • Amy McKenna – Her full letter with links can be found here. If you want to sign on, you can on this form (full disclosure, I signed it before it was presented) I Please keep students home. We are not meeting standards for Phase 4 return with cases increasing. We don’t know long term effects. References the Georgia Tech Study on possibility of a case in groups of different sizes. Many other school districts across the country are starting school virtual – San Diego, Los Angeles, DeKalb County Georgia, Milwaukee, and Washington Township in Indiana. Does the trauma of cases and deaths in the school community outweigh the benefit of being in person? We ask the district to spend this time preparing a more robust online education and preparing for enhanced in person services in Phase 6 – perhaps with summer school. Balancing in person and online places an undue burden on teachers and staff. Making a decision now allows families and teachers to plan.


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  • Emily Royce – Returning to school provides so many layers of fear and trauma – students in at-risk situations (domestic violence, hunger, shelter, children of color), those who have lost family members to COVID-19. Even the safety measures can cause trauma – masks, smaller classes, lack of school events. Who will support teachers and staff who also face these traumas?
  • Michael Meyer – We must provide the highest quality of education interpreted holistically. Please reconsider the decision to reduce staff in the budget proposed last month. However as we open, more staff is needed – all day nurse in every building. Opening Elementary schools may be safer and provide the biggest gains in education. Requested more information on plans to test students and staff. Possibly using aggregate tests and then testing individuals if there is a positive result.
  • Dr Swift appreciated everyone reaching out.
  • Kelly – I’m a parent too – how to keep kids safe whether you’re trustee, administrator or parent. Trying to come up with plan that uses science, guidelines, keeping kids healthy. As close to certainty by July 29 as possible.
  • Johnson – As trustees unique position to hear more about development, they are hearing about many of these issues on a daily basis. But, they do hear new things from the commentary especially options, sources and resources.

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Commentary by Ann Arbor Education Association

The meeting continued with commentary by Fred Klein from AAEA, 30 yr veteran of AAPS & President of AAEA.

  • Daily emails from union members expressing concern about returning in the fall
  • Read the open letter that the AAEA sent to the Ann Arbor Community. See the full letter here on Facebook
  • A few notes – They do not believe masks and distancing alone are enough to prevent spread in classrooms
  • They ask for bond money to be redirected to upgrading HVAC and ventilation and hand washing stations
  • Snack & Recess – Where will the eat? How will lunch pickup work with social distancing? Food allergy accomodations?
  • Classroom Cleaning – How often, by whom, who buys supplies? Teachers often bear the burden now?
  • Mask Compliance & Access to PPE
  • Substitute teachers have been in short supply before COVID. Where will coverage come if teachers become infected or are quarantined?
  • How to maintain distancing of personal protection (side note I know this has been an issue with lice spreading through a classroom)?
  • How will social distance be maintained outside classroom – before school, after school, passing periods, lunch, etc.
  • Best practice for Face to Face instruction is not a teacher lecturing in the front. It is small groups, student input, but social distancing guidelines favor teacher lectures and limited interaction.
  • They request 14 days with no new cases in the county before returning
  • And a Legal Risk Assessment Document.
  • Teachers do not feel safe. They feel more thorough planning and safety guidelines are needed before returning
  • Included new comments about LA & SD going fully remote this fall
  • Suspend standardized tests

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Board Response by Dr Swift:

She has forwarded the letter to the board. Appreciates them being in contact. Reiterates top priority is the health and safety of students, teachers, staff, parents, & community. Since early March members of the team working everyday on those questions. They have been planning and preparing for children and staff in person. That’s the desire and goal. But, they are also monitoring the growing cases in Washtenaw County and seeing the numbers around the state. They have received hundreds of emails – when July is usually a quieter month.

Entering 6 weeks prior to scheduled opening. This is the critical time. Regularly communicating with employee gropus, parents, etc. They have deliberately waited because situation is changing day to day.

Study session scheduled for July 22. Commitment in spring was a plan by end of July. The status is a dial. We will likely be at more than one spot in the dial in the 2020-2021 school year.

Special Shoutout to 200 teachers who are providing summer learning to more than 5000 students/families. THey are testing new platforms and tools for the 2020-2021 school year.

Fred Klein – we enjoy collaboration and have members who want to share their expertise.

Dr Lightfoot – thank you Fred & AAEA for the details, solutions suggested, metrics for memberships. “Ann Arbor is tail to wag the dog of education in Michigan”. We want to provide answers not just for Ann Arbor, but the state.


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Board Affirmations

I am not covering the details of this section as it relates to board business and not return to school for the students. However, Trustee Gaynor was removed as Secretary and Trustee Baskett was elected the new Secretary.

Adjournment

The meeting adjourned at 7:10pm.

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