July 22 - Ann Arbor Board of Education Meeting Notes

Notes from Ann Arbor Public Schools July 22nd Meeting

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education is holding a Study Session on July 22 to discuss plans for Fall 2020 at 6p. The State Board of Education also held a public session earlier on the day July 22.

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.


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Summary of Ann Arbor Public School’s Plans for Fall 2020

Tonight was a working session. AAPS Superintendent Dr. Swift and her team have been developing a plan in for Fall 2020. They have talked with individual Trustees during the process, but this is their first big presentation to the Board.

At this time, Ann Arbor Public Schools will start the year in a fully virtual model. The board of education will be voting on approval at next week’s meeting. However, Board President Johnson asked if anyone was leaning towards a no vote or had serious reservations that they needed to have addressed before voting. No one responded.

Three Learning Options

Ann Arbor Public Schools are offering families the choice of three learning options this year. The full Ann Arbor Public Schools Curriculum will be delivered to families.

It is important to note that virtual learning will look different in the 2020-2021 school year than it did in the spring. For the first two options, learning will be synchronous and will include interaction with both the teacher and other students. Unlike spring, all 3 options are regular school with progress made in learning and towards earning graduation credits. Work will be graded, report cards will be issued, and attendance will be taken.

A2 Classroom Connect

A2 Classroom Connect is a hybrid model. It will start as a fully virtual model. As conditions improve, Students will be assigned to a classroom and teacher at their school. A2 Classroom Connect will phase in hybrid learning once it is safe. Hybrid learning will start with younger grades and students most at risk and in need of extra support.

In the hybrid model, some students will meet in person at school on Monday/Tuesday while other students are connecting from home. Then the groups will swap on Thursday/Friday. If you are not ready to return to in person learning, your child can continue to participate fully online.

If we have a vaccine available with high enough vaccination rates, this group could potentially be full time in school before teh end of the school year. However, this is not guaranteed.


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A2 Link

A2 Link is a full online program. Students will be assigned to a classroom where everyone will be learning virtually. Students will be grouped by school as much as possible. Just like with Rec & Ed soccer teams, sometimes a school will not have enough for a full team – or may have enough for 1.5 teams and will combine with another school.

A2 Virtual

A2 Virtual is an online option that Ann Arbor Public Schools has offered high school students for years. This year, A2 Virtual is expanding to the middle schools. A2 Virtual offers an asynchronous self-paced learning experience. Students will virtually meet with their teachers once a week to check-in. But learning will be done through the course material available through the learning platform. Teachers will give feedback through the system or via email.

Learning Schedule

In both A2 Link and A2 Classroom Connect, students will be assigned to a “Base Camp” to provide a social/emotional connection at school with a regular (possibly daily) meeting. At elementary this will probably be their class and will start with a morning meeting and end with a wrapup. At middle school and high school, this would take the place of Advisories and programs such as Skyline’s Skyteam. These groups will be meeting regularly.

School will return the week of August 31. This will be 4 days of preparation without regular class blocks. This week there will be device and material pickups, orientations on the Schoology platform, and getting to know you sessions.

Learning will start the week of September 8. They will have a shorter school day this week as everyone gets used to the new routine.


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Both A2 Classroom Connect and A2 Link will not be following a traditional 5 day week or the Monday-Thursday schedule used this spring. Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday will be teaching days with blocks for each class. At the middle and high school level, there will be 3 classes a day with an alternating A/B schedule. This will allow for longer class blocks. Every Wednesday will an AAPS Exploration Learning Day. On Saturdays, the district will also offer optional programming of a more recreational nature.

Each class block will include both a synchronous teaching/discussion portion and asynchronous individual or small group work. The asynchronous work may not necessarily be on the device.

AAPS Exploration Learning Days may include an assignment by the teacher related to other coursework, tutoring, special interest projects, meeting with counselors, etc. In some ways it will replace assemblies, forums, and even some extra curricular activities.

The elementary schedule does include time for specials, but recess is not specifically listed but will be included. Once they move to a hybrid model it will need to be spaced out to maintain distance on the playground. Even in a full virtual learning, cohorts may meet at a local park for a socially distant activity.

With virtual learning the district is altering the high school schedule to start later. A later start time is supported by science and the natural sleep habits of teenagers. (My daughter was not happy about synchronous virtual learning until she learned the start time was later).

One thing I noticed that none of the trustees commented on is that lunch is different for elementary and secondary students. This seems inconvenient for families with children and multiple levels. They said the daily schedule is not finalized, soI hope they seek family feedback.


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Resources

Every student will be provided with a district device. These devices are being purchased from the technology bond money and they really want every student to have a district device. Many of the support calls they have fielded have been from non-district devices not having the proper apps or having other family members logged in. They really want families to take the device instead of refusing to save the district money. They are also commited to make sure every family has internet acess. They will work with families through service providers or to provide internet devices as needed.

The district is committed to meeting the needs of all students. They will be holding IEP meetings with families to develop specialized learning plans. The new learning platforms and curriculum approaches include a Universal Design Focus. Additional supports will be available on Wednesday in the hybrid mode and even in one on one video meetings prior to the hybrid model. Student with special needs will be the first priority when we can resume in person access.

They did not specifically make an announcement about continuing the food distribution program. However, Dr Swift did acknowledge the work of the team. She also mentioned that the district was at 25% free and reduced price lunch in March and they only expect that number to increase this fall with COVID-19 related job losses. I assume continued food distribution is part of the fall plan.


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Health Updates

Jenna Bacalor is the district’s point person for Public Health. She is working with the Washtenaw County Public Health and other officials and developing a comprehensive plan. She had a very in-depth presentation of the science and current situation that explains why in-person schooling is not viable right now.

Cases are currently ticking back up in the county including cases among ages 15-25 from the party in Saline. University of Michigan returning presents an unknown in its affect on local case counts. Recent studies have shown that older children (ages 10-19) can transmit as well or better than adults. Multisystem Inflammatory Disease in children (MIS-C) is rare, but dangerous. Both COVID-19 and MIS-C disproportionately affect Black and Hispanic/Latino families (over 70% of MIS-C cases).

For me, the most compelling reason she showed was the timeline of COVID-19 infections spreading.

The key to schools being able to reopen is being able to identify a patient and quarantine their contacts before they have a chance to spread COVID-19 further.

Asymptomatic COVID-19 patient shows symptoms from 2-14 days after infection with half of cases showing symptoms in 5 days. Patients are usually contagious 1-2 days before symptoms develop. That means someone that they infect is likely to be infectious just 3 days after infection – or only 1-2 days after the original patient shows symptoms. 

Testing process we need:

  • Rapid Testing (<1 day turnaround) that is free and widely available
  • Immediate Isolation, infected person shares contact information
  • Within 48 hours, contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts
  • Virus spread is contained as much as possible

What we have:

  • Testing is available through health care provider/community location with restrictions. Turnaround is 1-14 days
  • Isolation delayed by testing turnaround, Infected person may not share contacts or even answer the Health Department Call
  • Contact tracing and quarantine takes longer. Some are missed or don’t answer calls, so they don’t quarantine
  • Virus spread only somewhat contained

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About the Ann Arbor Board of Education Meetings

The AAPS School Board meeting starts at 6p on July 22. This School Board Meeting is a study session on returning to school on July 22. Based on the last study session on May 20 this is a chance for the district to present their plans to the board and for the board to ask them questions. The board is scheduled to vote on approval at next week’s meeting on July 29.


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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.

The meeting Agenda includes:

  • Call to Order
  • Public Commentary
  • Study Session Item – Ann Arbor Public Schools Return Learning Plan 2020-2021
  • Adjourn

The last study session was over 2 hours long. I expect a similar length to this meeting.

Upcoming Meetings

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

  • Wednesday, July 15 – See our notes
  • Wednesday, July 22 – 6p – This 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

At the July 15 meeting the board said they expect to vote on the plan at the July 29 meeting.


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Notes from The July 22, 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.

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.

The notes below will be taken as they are discussed. After the meeting, this information will be added to our AAPS Fall 2020 Plans article and then this article may be edited to a topic based organization.

  • Attendees: Bryan Johnson, Jessica Kelly, Dr Swift, Jeffrey Gaynor, Glenn Nelson, Rebecca Lazarus, Lightfoot, Baskett, Amy Osinski,, Jenna Bacalor, Jazz Parks, Mr DeAngelis

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Call to Order

The Call to Order will allow for attendance, apporval of prior board meeting notes, and other meting business.

Public Commentary

The meeting will continue with public commentary. My apologies on mis-spellings of any names

I missed the beginning of public commentary as it was not airing on CTN and I had to switch to the Zoom

  • Learning Pods, Online YouTube
  • Amy McKenna – Thank you for reading last week’s email, over 538 community members have signed. Teachers who are concerned about returning to school have public support. Making a decision now lets family make plans, and teachers/staff to develop robust learning plans.
  • Sonya Lewis – Mother Pioneer grad and rising junior. Last week sent a letter imploring to forego in person learning. Not how to return in person on August 31, how can we stretch our vision to best accommodate numerous and diverse learning needs. Lets not debate online vs virtual, but focus on developing the best non in person learning plan we can. There is no one size fits all.
  • Lisa Whitehouse & Other Pediatric Primary Care Physicians – Have witnessed destruction of children’s lives in academic and social-emotional health. Increased obesity and social isolation increased anxiety and depression. A substantial burden especially for those trying to work now. We strongly recommend in person learning. Remote learning this spring widened learning gap. We know the decision is complex. Teachers are essential workers in the community. They should be provided all the training and equipment. Funding is urgently needed for a safe learning environment. We recognize not all communities are in a position to open in person. With current low cases we support in person learning.

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Study Session

Introduction

Dr Swift said it has been 126 long days since we closed on March 13. Expressed deep gratitude for students and staff this spring and through summer school.

More than 350,000 meals have been distributed since Monday, March 16 – about 1750-2000 students a day with breakfast and lunch. Great thanks to the team and partners Food Gatherers and Ann Arbor Community Foundation provided food and distribution support including delviereis to 60 families who could not make the pickups.

A special shoutout to summer school teachers with the initial implementation of Schoology. There are 300 teachers and a little over 5000 students. There are positive reports from students and families on the plan (I have also heard the same).

Spring Participation: 99% families with connectivity. 88-93% of students were participating weekly. The metric was turning in assignments, not just showing up.

The plan will be worked out at the next 4 meetings and voted on at the August 11 meeting.


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Rationale, Context, & Overview of Recommendation

It will have been more than 5 months since we were last in school when school resumes on August 31. That is an historic gap. School is both for learning and a safety net for families. Free/reduced lunch rate was 25%, and has likely increased during the gap.

We recognize it’s teacher and board’s mission to serve children and keep them safe.

No one is looking forward more to having children in school and buildings full than the district.

School will launch and we will begin learning on August 31

We are hard-wired for student safety…Crossing Guards, Fire Drills, Winter Weather. Some decisions are more significant. Fighting the court battle for open carry of weapons.

Parents and famlies may not agree with decisions, but hopes Ann Arbor can all come together for student and staff safety


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Summary of the Plan

More details will come below.

The Science and current data do NOT support the safe return of all students to an in-person learning for the fall start of 2020-2021. We will be virtual learning as school opens! Learning will be in session, but virtual.

August 31 week is a week of on-boarding for students and families. (More later).

Tuesday, September 8 all students will report to class to start class. Learning will be in session. Because fall will return real time interactive learning, regular classes curricula, there will be a shorter school day to allow students to build endurance on new model.

When data says safe to return, it will be a phased approach. Youngest and most vulnerable first.

There will be 3 program choices for parents. AAPS will include real time engagement – synchronous – learning. There will be regular feedback and there will be grades and academic progress.

  • A2 Classroom Connect – Begins virtually. When it is safe, students will migrate to hybrid then full in-person. You are a member of your school classroom community with your teacher
  • A2 Student Link – all students virtual and intend to remain that way
  • A2 Virtual

Parents are asked to commit for a full year or full semester.


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A2 Virtual is still available for middle school and high school. It is a more indepednet, asynchronous learning. Thre is a one time a week in person interactive meeting.

For 2020-2021 all students will be connected to a Base Camp Group. It’s a place they can come back to. They will meet every day for connection and social/emotional support.

Spring participation hovered around 90%. It is difficult for some students to connect virtually. There will be a network of connection plus supports for students with the most needs. This will be in small group settings. They will be virtual and face to face in small social distant groups when possible. These will meet near children.

They are looking to deploy staff virtually and/or face to face to engage those who need extra help.

Looking to get flexibility in how to meet everyone’s needs.

This will not be a click in learning. experience. This will be the same AAPS rich quality teachers, curricula, and programs just delivered a little differently. We can maintain support and connections across our community. Be ready to support students who have experienced trauma at this time. They are working to establish a foundation of social justice and anti-racism.

Not just looking at first quarter, but the whole school year. How to get the most in person days. That means go slow now.


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Public Health Update

AAPS is the fourth largest district in Michigan and the second largest employer in Ann Arbor. As trustees have to think about the aggregate not just one child.

Washtenaw County case rate is dramatically up over the previous 6 weeks. Ann Arbor/Detroit area is Medium-High Risk. Throughout the state ticking up since Memorial Day. 

Our reality in Ann Arbor, a University Town – a small town with a big university and students returning shortly. We know that is a potential impact.

Current COVID research: 

  • Older children (age 10-19) spread as much as adults from a South Korean study. 
  • Outbreaks in childcare centers. 
  • Children and teens are a rising percentage of cases in the US.

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Ongoing concerns before a full reopening

  • Reliable, available testing and timely results
  • adequate contact tracing
  • assurance of PPE supplies as needed

Governor Whitmer is in full support, but not yet there nationally. They received results on a staff member and it took 4 days to get the response. This is not fast enough to safely open school.

AAPS has made an initial order of PPE and are preparing a second order. Includes

  • face shields
  • cloth masks
  • gowns & gloves

As superintendent wants to be confident supply chain is sustainable. When infection rates tick up, supply can be a problem.

Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-2021

August 31 will be an orientation and getting started week. activities such as technology checkout/tuneup. Books/materials pickup in social distant/touchless manner when possible. Orientation to Schoology. There will be parent/student engagement meetings at the school level.

This will probably be the most challenging year for staff and families. Take those 4 days (is Friday a day off?) – to get started.


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All students will start learning Tuesday, September 8 with a shorter schedule. Classes will be fully engaged.

A2 Classroom Connect. Interactive Young 5-12th grade.

Students in cloud and in school. This is for students who intend to return to school. 

Fully Virtual -> Hybrid 3 days virtual/2 days in person ->Full iN person

What if I choose this and want to remain virtual because of a case or changing family situation? You can

A2 Student Link

Also synchronous real time learning. In that case student is a member of a virtual learning community. They will try to keep you with your school community.


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A2 Virtual

Chooses to work independently with a teacher. It is self-paced. Still high quality AAPS teachers & curricula and once a week scheduled live interaction

Specialized Supports for students with special Needs

Additional supports on Wednesdays in hybrid mode including service provision and paraprofessional virtual until allowed to be face to face.

Universal Design for learning framework.

Acceleration of Learning

Still offering AAPS Accelerated and Advanced Palcement, IB program, world languages, and other opportunities

All HS students will have option of 7th period class offering. Students can take up to 2 classes at A2Virtual.


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Learning Schedule

Live classroom learning 4 days a week: Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday. There will be 3 blocks of learning a day. Each block will have interactive teaching time and assignment time. They will not be tied to a screen for the 6-7 hours.

Wednesday will be a dedicated AAPS Exploration Learning Day. There will be assignments from the teacher and curriculum. Plus, the option for personal passion and enrichment activities. These will be both virtual and some may be in neighborhood parks, outdoors, socially distant and with masks.

Saturdays there will be a full menu of recreational opportunities for students and famlies. They will be outdoors as possible and virtual as well. Enrollment will be limited to AAPS enrolled families.

All plans have:

  • Full AAPS curricula & programming – PLTW, academic interventions, tutoring, etc.
  • Attendance will be taken daily
  • Grades will be given
  • Technology device will be provided. Instructional, and exploratory elective materials will be shared.

Next steps

Ask parents to select program preference by August 12. They want to meet students and families where they are. Information will go out to families by the end of July. That gives families time to decide which program meets their students needs best.

They will engage in school and community feedback.

Continue personal responsibility – wear a mask, watch your distance, and wash your hands.


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Trustee Question Session

Dr Swift turns it over for questions. The plan above is the district recommendation. The Board needs to approve it.

At this point, Trustee Gaynor is no longer on the call.

Trustee Kelly

Slide about Special Education. Special Education is really about individual learning plans. How will families get individual attention? Dawn Linen

Linden:These are individual and will continue to work with case managers, and teams and will setup IEP meetings to determine what’s best for each families.

Kelly: Will it be possible to conduct some of these over the summers?

Dr Swift: Part of the week of August 31 is geared towards making the connections and starting the process. September 8 week will be a lot of team building and school orientation activities. There will be a transition at the beginning of the year.

Kelly: Universal Design for Learning – Glad it is part of the plan.

Kelly: You mentioned Dual Enrollment. Do they need to be full-time in the district to count as enrollment? Can they come part time because an opportunity at a local community college or other program.

Swift: I will get the answer. It is based on number of class periods.

Kelly: Late start and snow days are imporatnat issues for some folks. What about teenagers getting extra sleep and will there be snow days.


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Swift: I was hoping to avoid that subject. The daily schedule is a later start for high school students. If we remain virtual, the need for a snow day will no longer exist. Electrical outages may be the equivalent of a snow day. We are innovating and growing.

Kelly: If families don’t reply to the survey, where will families be assigned?

Swift: The default is A2Classroom Connect. Virtual->Hybrid->Full Time

Kelly: If families are committing to full virtual for the semester, there will be A2Link by school or combined if the school does not have enough.

Swift/Kelly back & forth: Yes, this is great if A2Student Link is a good choice. The best way to get friends and virtual is to either recruit friends to A2 Student Link or pick A2 Classroom Connect and remain fully virtual. But consider how your child will respond to being in a hybrid class and not being in the classroom.

Kelly: SAT for rising seniors who did not take it in the spring and for juniors. Some kids have apid for it to take it in the community, but that is not possible for all

Swift: We don’t know the outcome of that yet. Stay tuned. Miss Linden There will not be standardized assessments as much as we have that option. Governor Whitmer and State Superintent of Education have appealed to the Department of Education for anoterh waiver.

Kelly: Is there any bandwidth for representatives to communicate with higher education about putting together application packets if they haven’t had an SAT or been able to build their extra curricular activities or improved grades.

Swift: College prep will be available on Wednesdays for seniors to help work on applications.


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Kelly: Fall Sports – What is the current status?

Swift: We are monitoring the situation. Mr DeAngelis & Ms Parks are on this. It’s not just MHSAA but also consulting team members on middle school and intramural sports.

Ms Parks: We are minotiring what MHSAA is putting out each week. They will have another annoucnement this Friday. We are ready to pivot with their guidelines for our teams and staff. We want to maintain as much normalcy as possible.

Mr. DeAngelis – Friday’s announcement will be guidelines IF sports will happen this fall.Also talking about other states in the area and the national federation. MHSAA governing board meets next Wednesday. We are hearing different things. It may be too soon to make a decision for fall.

Swift: Just as we did in spring there is the possibility of moving things to spring or fall, but also a possibility of keeping team intact for virtual workouts.

Kelly: Are we considering best practices or guidelines when the teams are meeting and using our facility? Considering both health and liabliity

Swift: Community is hleping when members of a team are too close together and Dr Swfit receives emails from the community.

DeAngelis: It’s been in place since June 19 at all 3 comprehensive high schools. All outdoors. With social distancing. There’s a health screening. Michigan Medicine health training ins on site. Coaches went o extensive training. They have had to do some contact tracing and monitoring close contacts. There have not been any significant issues yet. Coaches are reminding students to maintain distance.


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Trustee Lightfoot joining by phone: Thank you for addressing our history with fighting gun.s. The state and nation are looking to us. Thank you for giving us access to the data and facts that we have access to as part of our community. What is important to me is that we are prepared for our mission and that we are prepared for it. Happy that the teachers sent her a laundry list of questions. For every letter asking for one thing, we had a letter asking for the opposite. Job as trustees is to look at everything and be as thorough as we can.

Baskett: Although we’re moving to new delivery of education, will we still have same professional expectations of teachers – response time, teaching quality 

Swift: Response times have been almost more immediate from teachers. Extremely impressed with teacher’s work in this area.

Baskett: Reaching out – Schools are closed, Balas is closed. How do families contact the district? 

Swift: Every department and team is open and working at Balas. Everything is being responded to daily. School teams don’t report yet, 10 month employees are still on break and not available. 

Baskett: New families or families who have been elsewhere and want to come back to AAPS? How do they reach out? Not only do they have choices to make, but families may need resources like technology and other resources.

Swift: Student enrollment is in session every day this summer

Baskett: Parents can still expect communication like parent-teacher conferences

Swift – Yes rhythm of day to day school will still occur – just a bit differently. We’ve seen school orientation, parent engagement, interviewed and hired employees, summer school

Baskett: Not a new normal, but in the past we have done Back to School Welcomes. Creativity will be based only on our limitations. Will these still happen

Swift: Absolutely. I can’t wait to see how creative school teams are.

Baskett: Are there any objections to this proposal from other board members? I think we need to be unanimous on this. It think virtual is safest, smartest, and most equitable right now.


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Johnson: Let’s let everyone ask questions first then get board opinion.

Nelson: Did you place order for PPE was there any state or national network you could join or is it an individual district

Swift: I don’t believe we are yet. But Senator Peters has discussed that with superintendents and helping from a legislative side. Ms Bacalor has been working on this. 

Bacalor: Extensive processing in purchasing to look at quantity, quality, and pricing. There was a lot of research. Guidance is continuing to change so next order might be different. 

Swift; Ms Minick we are not part of a consortia abut did use cooperative pricing that was negotiated to a lower price

Nelson: Anger I feel that 5 months into this we are in a position of not being able to bring students back for face to face instructions that we know is the appropriate way to teach kids.

I believe a good public education is important to kids and especially those in lower income families. It’s a small example that there isn’t a national program to get us appropriate PPE.

Other nations have done what is needed and gone back to school

Nelson: I really appreciate good work of team. TO the degree we can I would like to describe what would happen if in late August we started face to face instruction in our schools bringing every one back, not necessarily at the same time. Where we would we be 3-8 weeks after opening day?

Swift: Excellent Question. Ms. Bacalor will show timeline of window for improving community spread. Not time to see level of improvement. To follow CDC guidelines of 6’ apart, brings size of classroom down to 6-8 students. Using a virtual model gives us the cache to educate the most students in the safest possible way. If cases were diminished we could move forward. But understanding that small children won’t keep distance.

(and Dr Swift’s connection dropped)

Bacalor: This is part of planned presentation. A lot of it reinforces what Trustee Nelson said.


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Gaynor: Appreciate previous questions and comments.This is a complex issue. No solution meets everyone’s needs. And to answer Trustee Baskett I endorse virtual learning to start. I don’t think unanimous is necessary but that hope i is the consensus

I hope we don’t use MHSAA guidelines who works with the whole state and their whole purpose is to encourage athletics. I recommend checking their recommendations for our own safety standards.

Swift: MHSAA are the starting point. Mr Deangelis & Ms Bacalor work together to implement what we use.

Deangelis: We work with Michigan Medicine trainers and also have their protocols.

Gaynor: We have hundreds of questions about safety procedures and precautions to deal with from now on.

Swift: Appreciate community groups, teacher representative groups, health department. This is also why we will migrate small groups first to make sure our procedures are robust.

Kelly: Are they selecting into full virtual for all their classes. And it’s more difficult in middle and high school to maintain a cohort

Swift: This is why many districts are bringing back K-5 before middle or high school.

Kelly: So in A2 Connect, say high schoolers will have one cohort for literature and one for pre-calculus.

Swift: Yes.


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Health Presentation

Ms Bacalor present information on Health status. She is leading as school health official as well as director of Rec & Ed.

Current Research on Health & Transmission

Since January there have been 56000 articles published. We do stay up to date on research, but implement guidance well supported from CDC, Michigan Department of Education and other trusted sources. This is up to date as of today

School is critical for children’s well-being. The pandemic has highlighted resources that school supply beyond education.

Racial disparities are a reality in Washtenaw County, in Michigan, and in the nation.

Children are more likely to be asymptomatic. This can be a serious risk in a school setting. We don’t know if they are less susceptible to COVID-19. They are more likely to have a mild case and less likely to be hospitalized or need ICU care. Multisystem Inflammatory Disease in Children (MIS-C) is rare but serious. 71% of cases have been in Hispanic/Latino and Black children. About 2-6 weeks after a peak in adult cases, doctors observe children with MIS-C.

The virus spreads through droplets and aerosols. Droplets don’t go far, usually drop within 6 feet. Aerosols are a smaller droplet (less than 5 microns). Aerosols can linger in the air and travel. Too many unknowns. How much virus is needed for transmission.

It is unclear how long COVID-19 lives on a surface. Current thought is this is not a main transmission surface. There have not been huge outbreaks traced to surfaces – but it doesn’t mean we should stop cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. The district is focusing more on indoor air.

Current thought is small children transmit to others less. However, ages 10-19 spread at least as well as adults. Note this study was based on household transmission to adults.

How infectious is COVID-19? SARS-CoV-19 has an R (reproductive) number of 2-3. At an R of 2, each person with it infects 2 susceptible people. Cases will double quickly. (As a reference, measles has an R=15 that is why the measles vaccine is so important).

The incubation period is 2-15 days (typically 5). Day 1 is most infections day, but, the Infectious period starts 2 days before symptoms. How can we stop chain of transmission. The goal is to break the chain of transmission. You need to identify a case and quarantine close contact before they become transmitters in as little as 3 days.

Other countries show reopening schools is safer when low community spread.


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Consideration on Return to In Person Learning

Case thresholds are based on cases per million.

  • High > 40
  • Medium/High: 20-40
  • Medium: <20
  • Low: <7

Washtenaw County has hit the High Case threshold recently. Recent jump was largely in the 15-25 age group from a party in Saline.

Potential impact of University of Michigan. Staggered arrival of incoming students starting August 24 with classes beginning August 31. They are doing in house testing and contact tracing. It will take several weeks to determine impact.

Testing process we need:

  • Rapid Testing (<1 day turnaround) that is free and widely available
  • Immediate Isolation, infected person shares contact information
  • Within 48 hours, contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts
  • Virus spread is contained as much as possible

What we have:

  • Testing is available through health care provider/community location with restrictions. Turnaround is 1-14 days
  • Isolation delayed by testing turnaround, Infected person may not share contacts or even answer the Health Department Call
  • Contact tracing and quarantine takes longer. Some are missed or don’t answer calls, so they don’t quarantine
  • Virus spread only somewhat contained

Usually only hospital has a 1 day turnaround. Commercial provider can take 14 days which is too late. Couple of cases within AAPS the infected person has contacted the district right away to do and allowed the district to do their own contact tracing and notification.

The district is required to cooperate with the health department and share contact information for close contacts in the school.


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How Does AAPS protect Students and Staff

Stacking best practices is the best prevention we have.

  • Personal – PPE, hand washing, staying home when sick
  • Administrative – screening, protocols at building and district level
  • Engineering – ventilation and plumbing, isolation/sick rooms, physical modifications
  • Public Health – Monitoring absences, Health Education & training, systemic data collection, Working with Health Department

More details will be shared next week.

Board Questions on Health

Lazarus: If we’re putting student safety at forefront, virtual is what we have to do until the safeguards are in place. My question is with flu season coming up, how do we distinguish flu vs covid? Both have similar symptoms, similar absences

Bacalor: About flu, encourage flu shots unless you cannot. We had a lot of cases last year. Flu shots are highly recommended.

Nelson: If we brought everyone back in late August, you’re saying we wouldn’t have everyone back. Under the conditions we have now in our district we don’t see any way to be operating face to face with everyone in the building


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Bacalor: I want to see low community transmission. It’s too close to the end of August to think we’ll be able to open then.

Kelly: Thank you for educating us on how complex it is to open up safely. Thinking about how difficult it is to control lice in the classroom, how can we think about controlling this. Studies that say students have better emotional/social health when in school in person. But does anyone have impact of mental health impact when in person is keeping social distance and everyone with masks.

Bacalor: Compared it to Safety Town how a fire person would look when a fire fighter comes in fully geared up to save them. Ahead of time, have teachers show students what it will look like and why. In hospitals many staff have their picture on their uniform since they are always behind masks and shields.

Kelly: What about the emotional impact of seeing everyone behind mask – we have to wear this or we can die? I hear concerns about mental health in isolation, but school like it was isn’t an option either.

We know schools fill a childcare need. But I want people to hear that a sniffle means they have an unpleasant test, you have them home for testing turnaround, and a whole class is home waiting on test or quarantined. It’s more complex and unpredictable than it was. I am glad we are setting it out 6 weeks in advance to have parents make a plan.

Johnson: Thank you trustees for your questions and the district for your answers. I have a question about contact tracing. What does that look like? It seems our tracing coapabilities in the county aren’t wehere we need to be. What role would we play?

Bacalor: I just did contact tracing today. We had a case in the district of a staff person. Looked at the calendar to determine start of infectious period. Talked with employee about where you were at work, did you have in person interactions. There were a few close contact. I Then called the contact and talked it through by protocol from a Johns Hopkins tracing class. District is concerned about spread in the district and school buildings. District tracers only facilitated tracing in building and other contact with AAPS employees. Washtenaw County is doing a better job with their own contact tracers instead of volunteers at the state level. The district is requiring employees to inform as soon as a positive test is received and act faster than being contacted by the county.


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Johnson: Empathize with parents who want to get back to “normal”. What stands out about public health is this is science and where it is leading us. If we’re giong to value science and teach it to our children, we need to follow it.

I like what Lightfoot and Baskett mentioned about state policy implications and what our role as a board is. How do we get that started. If we’re reimagining how school is done in testing terms, but we know standardized testing doesn’t always measure how well some students are doing. What is the best way and how can we impact that.

Are there trustees with any major concerns or objections to the plan or need additional information to support the plan? I hear none, so I will assume everyone is ok moving forward and supporting the district’s plan.

Swift: I appreciate all the questions and follow-ups from the Board and everyone in the district who has worked on the plan. My understanding is we’ll have a brifing next week and have a vote. Then we can send out the information to parents. But, with what I’m hearing today the district is going to move forward on drafting letters to go to parents after the board vote.

Lazarus: Clarifying question, we are offering to parents A2 Link (Full Virtual), A2 Virtual, and A2 Classroom Connect (Full Virtual->Hybrid->Full time with a vaccine). Do we believe we have the physical ability to accommodate half the A2 Classroom Connect at 50% in a hybrid model.

Swift: By using some extra space – classroom, multi-purpose rooms, cafeterias, that we can do 50%. The scenarios do not work for any more.

Lazarus: We did not consider allowing the youngest and special needs to have priority

Swift: That is the plan, to let the youngest and special needs students return first.

Lazarus: What about repurposing older buildings like a middle school for younger students.

Swift: When we see enrollment numbers we can decide. And particularly if there is more information on transmission between younger students and older students.


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Johnson: Want to make sure Dr Swift and her team understand any concerns before next week’s meeting

Lightfoot: When will information go out?

Swift: With head nods from the board, we will move forward to prepare communications to family.

Nelson: I am finding the briefing useful. It is my understanding that Ms Linden has material to present. I’d like to hear it.

Swift: Ms LInden’s information will flesh out the learning day.

Learning Day

Equity and Opportunity, Social Justice and Anti-Racism

Base Camp – Morning Meeting in elementary, advirosy prios in secondary. This will be every day . It’s a spot for suport and a touch point

Screening tools ioto identify students with emotianl trauma

understanding metnal health suppor lines and with AAPS and community

Focus on Connections and well being

Parents support groups and workshop


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Schoology is a new learning system. It’s working well this summer and adapting based on learning this summer.

Every AAPS student will have a district device to prvenet connection sisues. District is also suporting with internet services.

Block schedules with three learning blocks – some courses on A days and others on B days. This allows extended class time every other day. They can implement the entire course curriculum to meet state requirements and also identifying gaps from the spring closure.

This will be live interaction. Learning is social. You will log in 3 times a day for interaction with peers and teachers.

There will still be grades, report cards, engagement, and attendance. If students are not engaged they will be contacted and engaged.

They are re-envisioning learning, structure of lessons, language used with a culturally relevant and universal design approaches. Team of teachers preparing the first weeks of lessons to train teachers in these approaches and presenting in an online environment.

Providing extra support and connection to students who need the most help.

A2 Student LInk Young 5/K->12th – Fully online synchronous learning community. Classroom paced, synchronous and will remain in theis all year.

A2 Classroom Connect – Neighborhod School Leanring Community students attend online PreK-12

A2 Virtual – Expanding to middle school. Curriculum is pre-loaded. It is individual, self-paced, asynchronous course. Students move at their own pace. This is grade 6-12. Engagement is mentoring and support. Checkin on pacing and providing feedback in writing either in the system or by email.


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Sample Schedule 0 times will likely be adjusted :

Elementary :

8:30-9a Morning Meeting – synchronous

9-10:30 – Core Academics

10:30-11:30 – Specials/InterventionEnrichment

11:30-12:19 Lunch

12:20-1:50 academic

1:50-3 Special

3-3:23 closing

Secondary

8:30-10:20 Block 1

10:30-12:20 Block 2

12:20-1 Lunch

1-1:25 advirosy

1:25-3:20 learning block


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Kelly: With link option are families commiting semester or by year?

Swift: Design is to stay for the school year. .Families may have a choice in mid-semester. Changing would require a teacher chanage.

Gaynor: On the schedule, I did not see recess

Linden: We will figure out how to alternate play times to maintain recess.

Gaynor: Decision on Schoology. We have heard from teachers and students that there are glitches and bugs and Schoology is not doing what is expected

Swift: I’d like to bring that up next week as an updated on Schoology > today I received a list of conerns and a team is wokring on it.

Lazarus: Three questions. One to One devie program. You want all students to have a district ownded device. So we aren’t recommending people use their own personal devices

Linden: We want to issue devices so login is secure. Sometimes students are using parent’s laptop or Sometimes still logged in on parent’s account or other child’s . We heard from parents that sharing devices was an issue. FOr both security and access they will distribute to every student. K-2 iPads, 3-12 Chromebooks with varyign capabilities based on need.

Lazarus: A lot of parents are mindful of cost to district. We are buying through tech nod. It is not coming from eneral funds. May want to send out another sruvey. And explain why we want them to have a school device.

Swift: That will be part of the enrollment process. Ms Linden we’ll work on the language to encourage as to advised, recommended, or required. District devices are formatted with all our apps and tools.


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Swift: A fair amount of struggles tech team struggles with would be resolved with a district device.

A2 Virtaul may choose to do some electives with district school like band or orchestra, bu core curriculum can be all A2 Virtual.

Lazarus: The other thing I noticed Secondary is 350 minutes of synchronous learning. Are they phsyically there for 350, or is it a back and forth.

LInden – Roughly half of a block will be practice/application. Could be small group, independent. They are logged off.

Lazarus: For elementary: About 300 minutes as well. Screen time can be devastating to learning process moving forward.

Linden: Teachers are aware, but we need to do more to stay in blended learning parameters with some offline activities. We have specific guidance. Keep videos under 6 minutes. We have over 300 blended learning teachers trained to coach others. There’s reserach on different types of screen time. Sedentary where you’re watching a movie with no interaction. There’s active interaction where you are problem solving. They’fe finding active screen time is not harming students. BUt for eyes and other reasons we don’t want students staring at screens for long periods.

Johnson – Wednesday and Saturday are Saturdays required and what type of things might they be. What would Wenesday look like.

Swift: We are delighted with Wednesday and Saturdays. They are why we looked to enrich the week and not be 5 days of the same schedule. Wednesday they will need to do an independent activity their teacher has given them. We can’t give up a day of learning. Then the schedule would be more flexible. Math tutoring, college prep, FAFSA workshop, asking para-educators to use their talents. Possibly social distant outdoor gatherings in a neighborhood park, replacing assemblies, a high school forum, environmental education program.

We are looking to do what Ann Arbor does best. Find a passion and pursue it. We want to give flexibiity. If itnfection remains going up, students will miss clubs and activities. We want that to continue to fourish.

Saturday will look more recreational.


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Lazarus: Just to summarize: We are offering Full Virtual, Hybrid (which is starting all virtual), but no all day every day.

Swift: Yes, Everyone will start all virtual. When it is safe, we will bring back the A2 Classroom Connect back in a hybrid model. If in A2 Classroom Connect you can choose to stay all virtual and remain with that group. The beauty of this is if a case pops up, children go home and still connect virtually the next day. There isn’t the disruption of moving people into a virtual classroom.

Adjournment

Next week will be a second briefing and answer any lingering questions. At that point the board will approve or decide to take another direction.

The meeting adjourned at 10:40p

State Board of Education

WXYZ-TV Channel 7’s Facebook page shared what they called “State board of education to discuss school reopening”.

State board of education to discuss school reopening

WATCH LIVE: State Board of Education to discuss reopening Michigan schools. https://www.wxyz.com/news/coronavirus/state-board-of-education-to-discuss-reopening-michigan-schools-today

Posted by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 on Wednesday, July 22, 2020

I committed to watch the meeting and provide a summary. The meeting was led by Dr Pamela Pugh, the Vice-President of State Board of Education. She holds a pHD in public health.

Based on the video title, I was expecting this to be a meeting of the State Board perhaps expanding on the Michigan Return to Learn plan. The meeting was a forum of experts and advocates advocating for what safe reopening looks like. The general consensus of the group is that we are not ready to open yet. There needs to be infrastructure improvements to many neglected school buildings particularly in minority and poor neighborhoods. These areas were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 and have seen the least investment in school infrastructure in recent years. Additionally, knowledge and best practices about COVID-19 continues to evolve.

One of the points that came up several times is that there needs to be a co-ordinated plan. Each district should not be left to develop a plan on their own from loose guidelines. There should be specifics on when buildings need to close, how to maintain distance, how to serve the most vulnerable.

Joining Dr Pugh in the meeting were:

  • Ms Walker – teacher & parent in Detroit Public Schols
  • Dr Weaver – Licensed Child & Family Clinical Psychologist and former mayor of Flint
  • Donele Wilkins – Green Door Initiative, a Detroit environmental justice initiative
  • Claire Barnett – Founder & Executive Director of Healthy Schools Network

Healthy Schools Network The Pandemic V. Schools

Ms Barnett spoke at length about the research by her organization and others into opening schools safely. The Healthy Schools Network has published The Pandemic v. Schools. The report includes useful information for districts, schools, and states to evaluate when considering reopening.

Other Key Points Made by Speakers

A few key paraphrased quotes that resonated with me:

We talk about children being our greatest resource. We need a process to honor that by protecting the health and well being of children and the adults that make education happens.. – Dr Weaver

Access to safe education is a basic human right – Dr Weaver

People say we need to get back to school for socialization. How much socialization will kids have in classroom when kept 6’ apart.? – Ms Walker

Are we setting children up to fail with an increasingly punitive environment if students aren’t obedient to maintaining social distance? – Ms Wilkins

Ms Walker

Ms Walker is a parent of 4 who have attended Detroit Public School (2 graduates, 2 graduated from a suburban district). She is also a teacher assistant in Detroit Public Schools. Teachers & staff want to go back, but want to do so without risk of contracting COVID.

In order to return, they want: 

  • 14 consecutive days without cases 
  • Regular, on-going tested, quarantine when students are infected.
  • Masks by all students. 
  • Required class size dropped to allow 6′ distance
  • PPE provided for students & staff
  • Independent agency to inspect buildings with special attention paid to ventilation.
  • Separators for teacher & student desks
  • Not using sick pay if infected with COVID
  • Statewide reporting hotline for reporting insufficient protections

Her connection to the meeting dropped at the end of her statement, but when she reconnected, she concluded with:

We need to go slow so we can go fast. We want to go back, but only if conditions are right

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