July 29 - Ann Arbor Board of Education Meeting Notes

Notes from Ann Arbor Public Schools July 29th School Board Meeting

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education is holding Board Meeting on July 29 to continue their discussion for Fall 2020 at 6p.

The Ann Arbor Public Schools Board of Education will be holding meetings on Wednesday evenings August 12 & 26 with a board retreat on August 19 as they work through plans for Fall 2020.


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

Just to recap where we are before the meeting starts. Last week, Ann Arbor Public Schools proposed to the Board of Education that the school year will start 100% remotely. Families will be able to choose one of three options:

  • A2 Classroom Connect – Start as a virtual learning environment and then will transition to a hybrid model when it is safe to reopen. Students will be assigned teachers and a class based at their enrolled school. Learning will include both synchronous and asynchronous time.
  • A2 Link – A 100% virtual learning option. As much as possible students will be grouped with staff and classmates from their assigned school. However, just as with Rec & Ed sports, occasionally schools will combine to form a large enough class. Learning will include both synchronous and asynchronous time.
  • A2 Virtual+ – This is Ann Arbor Public Schools virtual learning environment that has been offered for years. It is a self-paced asynchronous virtual class and is available to middle and high school students.

Get more details in our AAPS Fall 2020 Plans article.

Ann Arbor Public Schools - Fall 2020 Plans

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Meeting Summary

The July 29th meeting had less breaking news than the July 22nd meeting. However, there were still a few key pieces of information and some clarification and updates from last week’s meeting.

Learning Options

Ann Arbor Public Schools again reviewed the three learning options being offered for the 2020-2021 school year.

They also discussed feedback that they have received. They are investigating how to incorporate some of the feedback, but still working on the details and were not ready to present at this meeting.

  • Aligning lunches between grade levels (the original schedules had secondary lunch after elementary lunch
  • Less synchronous learning time, or less spread through the day especially at elementary
  • Synchronous learning times only in the morning and specials in the afternoon that would be optional
  • Independent learning opportunity at elementary and middle school.

Dr Swift specifically stated that in August they will have a plan for elementary students to have a more independent learning experience by extending A2 Virtual+ to grades K-5 as well.

A2 Classroom Connect

They clarified the A2 Classroom Connect plan. Families can choose to remain virtual even when in person learning is allowed. However, the goal is absolutely to move this group from Fully Virtual to a Hybrid environment as conditions allow.

Students will return to the building in small cohorts with some students at home and others in class. This will limit exposure and allow for more social distance in school.

Returning students to the buildings will be done in 3 phases. Phase 1 will return early elementary (K-2nd grade) and the students most in need and at risk. Phase 2 will return late elementary (3rd-5th grade). Phase 3 will return the middle and high school students. In each phase they will monitor health protocols, rate of infection, and monitor health data and make adjustments as needed before continuing to the next phase.


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Connect+ Learning Groups

Connect+ Learning Groups were introduced by Dr Swift in her FAQ video on Monday, they are also the district’s response to the learning pods that families have talked of forming to assist with childcare and learning. Connect+ Learning Groups will be a small group of students (6-8 with 1-2 adults). They will assist students in their virtual learning, provide mental health and food and nutrition support. They will be located in neighborhoods targeting the most at risk students. They are working with community groups such as Peace Neighborhood who is currently running a group for summer learning.

Specialized Support for Students with Special Needs

The district is committed to providing support for students with special needs. During the asynchronous learning block, paraeduators and intervention specialists will be connecting with students one on one. They will also receive additional support on Wednesdays. Where possible they may be able to arrange in person sessions (this cannot happen if Ann Arbor returns to in Phase 3 of the governor’s restart plan). More details will be covered in a presentation at a future meeting.

Sports

MHSAA met on Wednesday and approved low risk fall sports (Cross Country, Golf, Boys Tennis, and Girls Swimming & Diving). They can start practices on August 12 however swimming/diving practice must be held outdoors at this time. Other fall sports can start outdoor conditioning and practices, but a decision on competition will be made around August 20. AAPS is still evaluating how they will respond. Since the meeting it was announced that there was an individual who attended girls field hockey and basketball summer conditioning has tested positive.

Schoology and Tech Purchase

Schoology has been used successfully through the summer especially in older grades. They have seen a sharp drop in tech support calls. Schoology is like a toolbox that holds all the learning tools that were used this spring and will continue to be used..

The trustees approved the purchase of 13,000 new Chromebooks for $4.2 million using funds from the 2018 tech bond. iPads were previously purchased through the tech bond in February for grades PreK-1. Grades 2-12 and staff who did not previously have laptops will receive these Chromebooks (as well as over 5000 recently purchased Chromebooks).


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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 – Study Session – See our notes
  • Wednesday, July 29 – 6p – Regular Meeting (this meeting)
  • Wednesday, August 12 – 7p Regular Board Meeting
  • Wednesday, August 19 – Time TBD – Board Retreat
  • Wednesday, August 26 – Regular Board Meeting

An early agenda for this meeting included voting to approve the plan. However, I do not see that on the current agenda.

Back to Contents

Notes from The July 29, 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. We will not be covering board business (like approval of minutes).


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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: Lazarus, Gaynor, Nelson, Lightfoot, Baskett, Kelly, Johnson, Swift

Public Commentary

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

  • Stacy Ebron – Mother of two Black boys, rising K & 3rd grade at Lawton. Agree with values and principals with implementation. Understandably focused on virtual education, but achievement gap will most likely widen without changes to service & delivery to most vulnerable students. How will it be implemented in anti-racist and socially just way. Secondly, there is no list of how success will be measured or how students not engaged will be engaged. Third, I think plan is too vague for how to help underserved students. Must engage in outreach with parents & community networks. Item 4, choices are unclear and lack details for parents without seeing the 4+ hour board meeting. Item 5, I’m concerned about inequities of neighborhood learning pods as explained in writings of equity director for WISD.

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  • Bob Rourke – I want to congratulate board on commitment to student health & safety & staff for creating reimagine learning framework. First question is about effectiveness. What was experience with remote learning this winter and based on grade, subject, and socio-economic status. Second question is about liability if a student fails to check in and is harmed? Final question is about fairness of compensation and formalizes homeschooling as the only option with responsibility for teaching and supervising their child. Parents are may be forced to give up their job for this. Why are they being forced to work without compensation. Encourages the use of vouchers so aprents can
  • Michael Kringle – I am disappointed why is it so much more conservative than the governor’s plan? We are currently in phase 4 which should allow for in person learning. Last week, they said several weeks of declining cases. They are. Virtual learning for young children requires intense parental involvement. Many businesses have found ways to open safely including UM. It’s a matter of finding unique enablers for education. I hope you will reconsider all virtual
  • Sandy Kreager – Thank Dr Swift for making a hard decision and taking the lives of all people into account. Thank you for protecting stuents and staff. I realize there are no perfect answer.s – a Fifth grade teacher.
  • Kerry Booth – School Social Worker with AAPS. Thank you for deciding to start virtually. As a social worker I am uniquely aware of the emotional trauma. We will continue to work toward equity for all students.
  • (I did not catch the name) – Thank you for your continuous care and commitment to excellence. Two elementary students. My questions are length and structure of online school day – what is the length based on? Regulatory rules, educational expertise specific to online learning? assumptions from in person learning?It is important for parents to know why and not just who, what, where, and when. This can make parents more effective in helping their student. Same hours as in person school is a burden on AAPS teachers & staff, are alternative schedules being considered? Maybe focus on core subjects and make electives and specials. In normal situations this these are why people choose AAPS, but in virtual participating in as many as usual may be a tipping point. Attendance and grades: How will attendance be recorded ? By block, by day, for synchronous or asynchronous. How will grades be based on asynchronous. It can be difficult t assess when a student is falling behind on learning or turnaround. Please increase communication to parents & caregivers between report cards. Maybe a dashboard in Schoology, increased parent-teacher conferences. I am glad AAPS is compliant with providing all materials needed in classrooms. Beyond technology how will this be maintained across remote learning. In spring, I heard if you don’t have X find something similar or just watch.

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  • Adrienne Dancer – A virtual only places a disproportionate burden on essential workers who provide essential needs like healthcare, food, utilities, and more. The state and AAPS we should offer families with an essential worker the option of hybrid or virtual under 10 and virtual pods in the building for those with children over 10. Over 70 signatures on this plea.
  • Rita Simpson-Block – This comment is about various risk factors for our families. The decisions schools are about mitigating risks fo the greatest group parent. I’m not sure we’re at all aware of the long term affects fo social isolation and remote learning. Do we have any data on the danger of child abuse and neglect and it’s rise in this pandemic. What about the rise of mental health issues without data? Particularly in teens due to isolation. Can we really make a decision on public health without information on mental health, the limits on mental health coverage, CPS limitations? We cannot realistically ignore the science on one set of public health issues in favor of the higher visibility of another public health issue. Is it possible for the board to hear from a mental health professional before moving forward?

Clarification & Comments from the Board

Swift – appreciate the feedback. We are working on it.

Gaynor – replying to mention that cases are ticking down. 7 day average with new cases is the highest since May 5. They have gone back up from under 200 to over 700.

Baskett – I encourage people to read the documents that are out there. From some of the comments, I feel we were not as clear as we could have been. Some of the assertions were not only incorrect but were addressed in the first review.. I know our meetings are long, but do appreciate the questions. There is collaboration and out-reach with local non-profits including Peace Neighborhood Center, Student Advocacy Center, CAN, etc. Hopefully things will be more clear after this evening.


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Johnson – I would like to echo appreciation for feedback. We are still developing details, but wanted to get direction out as soon as possible. Please continue to reach out and push the board

Johnson (feedback on the last comment which was added later) – We absolutely take mental health issues seriously. We are working to get back in the buildings as safely as we can. Swift echoed these comments.

AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan Update

AAPS Superintendent Dr Swift revisits the AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan with some updates. I appreciate the remarks from public commenters. We wanted to get information out. We have the house and are now arranging everything inside it. The goal with the update is to dive into what parents and students needto know to think about their upcoming decisions.

After this section, Ms Bacalor will respond to what will happen when we have a case. Also a more technical look at how we plan to keep adults as healthy as possible and protocols for students at school during the day

We wish we were preparing to welcome students back in person. We are determined to offer the best program. We know it may all look different but the critical mission remains “Every Child, Every Day”. We get that everyone is unhappy with what we have, but we are determined to deliver the best experience we can.


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Following about 10 of the most commented themes from communications received.

Commitment to social justice and anti-racism. Working every day to achieve equity. Working to ensure underserved students have every opportunity to succeed. Now is the time to help as we are redesigning with the reimagine learning. We have more students in poverty today than on March 13 (the last day of in person learning)

Food distribution will continue and remain strong. We have just passed 415,000 meals distributed. Have not missed a day since March 16, the Monday after lunch was in school on March 13. Summer distribution has been extended through September 4. They are adding a late afternoon drive-through at Pioneer beginning 4:30-6 beginning Friday, August 7. Enter on 7th by Rec & Ed. Thank you to Chartwells, Durham, & AAPS Volunteers. Food Gatherers has also helped to supply larger boxes of staples as well as lunch options.

It is a multi-year process to catch up from the learning gap. A big shoutout to 350 teachers, leaders, and staff who organized summer learning. There were 4500 students participating. Elementary – 900, Middle School – 700, high school – 2000+, and special education – 450. We want to make sure students are on staying engaged and on the process to catch up.

Schoology is going well at secondary level. Some gaps at elementary. Dr Kellstrom will share


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Looking forward to seeing students in virtual class on Tuesday, September 8 – 6 weeks from yesterday. The week prior will be orientation. AAPS has been supplying all the materials for students in need during summer learning challenge.

Every single student in AAPS will have a device that is preloaded with all the applications for learning. There will also be reading libraries available on the device with AADL and others.

Rationale for Virtual Learning

4th Largest district in Michigan. At least 25000 people have to leave their home – 18500 students – on any day of in-person learning.

They look at the rising cases during July, emerging research & data, it will have been 5 months since students were together, unknowns about COVID.

Metrics: Risk level as the region, cases both in state and nationally,

We love being a UofM town, but is a consideration for reopening. As college students return from all over the country regardless of virtual or in person classes. Students come from 82 Michigan Counties, 50 states, and 139 countries. Top 10 states (in order from fall 2019 data): California, Illinois, New York ,New Jersey, Ohio, Florida, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Maryland, & Texas. AAPS will monitor the impact through the fall.

What we need is low rates of transmission over sustained time, not weeks of declining cases. The goal is not zero cases, we are not likely to get there. Shared a quote from an emergency physicians. It takes 3-4 weeks for a new restriction (mask order) to have an effect and a few more weeks to ensure the trend holds.

There is no calendar for COVID. We aren’t setting a date. We are looking at our metrics.


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What we need are readily available testing WITH timely (24-48 hours) results, adequate contact tracing, and sustained supplies of PPE.

The most recent case in the district took 4 days which was better than previous situations. But 4 days at in-person schools would be disastrous for all the students and adults in that school environment.

Contact tracing cannot keep up when cases are at high levels.

Protocols is masks must be warned. Face Shields will be needed for some, full PPE gowns and gloves for nursing staff and food staff. First order has been delivered. It is estimated to be about 2 months worth and cost about $1 million. We will need not just funds but assurance they will be readily available.

CDC guidance: Lowest Risk is virtual-only. Medium Risk – small in-person classes. On a hybrid AAPS is thinking 10-13 students in a classroom. Highest risk is full in person classes.

The plan is to move the A2 Classroom Connect from Full Virtual->Hybrid (when the data supports it)->Full In Person. The Hybrid would be small cohort groups with half at home and half in person. This is for families who intend to return to school. In A2 Classroom Connect families CAN stay virtual if they are not ready to return to in person.

Virtual programming (A2 Student Link, A2 Virtual) will be available all year. A2 Student Link is or students planning to stay fully virtual all year. They will do their best to group students by school. But it is fully virtual and may be mixed if there aren’t enough students at their grade level to have a classroom at their school.

They have heard that parents don’t want so much synchronous instruction. We don’t want to be on the computer and plugged into a classroom. A2 Virtual will be extending to middle and extended to Kindergarten – more details in August. It will be independent. Elementary parents will be asked to work with their principal on how that will look.

Connect+ Learning Groups

Will be provided from Day 1. Small groups of students (6-8, maybe 2 adults). They will be in neighborhoods. They will provide a safe space to access and support virtual participation. This is their response to pods that tend to be by the wealthiest families. They are working with Community groups. Currently in operation at Peace Neighborhood for summer learning. Students can get help with virtual, mental health, food & nutrition. They will use criteria around Head Start, Title I, ESL, Homeless, parent, social workers, and teacher referral. Make sure students who need it get into a group. They will meet in person when allowed at Community Centers, apartment complex, club houses, etc. If cases rise and they cannot meet in person they will continue virtually.

In Schoology they will be able to see who is not engaging to provide referrals. This is a community endeavor.


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Specialized Support for Students with Special Needs

The second part of each learning block, the paraeducators and intervention specialists will be connecting one on one.

Direct tutoring will be provided. Additional supports on Wednesday.

(Sorry if I missed anything, my daughter interrupted me)

Migration to In Person Learning

Begin to design entry into buildings after establishing

Phase 1: Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade & Students most in need and at risk. Small groups. They will monitor health protocals, rate of infection and monitor health data.

Phase 2: Grades 3-5

Phase 3: Middle & High School Students

Acceleration of Learning

AAPS is still providing accelerated classes, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, World Languages, Dual Enrollment with colleges and universities, and Community Resource Classes for High School, Partnership with WCC.

Full Quality Programs

Project Lead the Way redesigning for Virtual setting.including moving some modules to later in the year.

Great conversations on how to continue Visual and Performing Arts. Instruction will continue and can give feedback. Students can create, produce and respond to performing arts, small group breakouts. They are looking at an app that allows musicians to rehearse and record in realtime and plugins to Schoology.


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Schedule

There was a lot of feedback from parents wanting to modify the learning day especially for younger students. They are exploring options like:

  • aligning lunch schedules for multi-level students.
  • less synchronous learning time, or less spread through the day especially at elementary
  • synchronous learning times only in the morning and afternoon more about choice.
  • independent learning opportunity at elementary and middle school.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will be shared on Mondays via Monday. Opportunities for families to connect by grade level and building specific. District level way for parents to wight in and give feedback.

Parents will make a decision around middle of August.

What Happens if a Case is Found by Ms Bacalor

Getting back to in-person school is important. This is one way we are preparing for that.

As a district we need to be able to rapidly respond to cases. It is part of the governor’s plan. 

Goal is to react as quickly as possible that close contacts are staying away from school and getting the help they need.

COVID-19 Rapid Response Team. Includes district and building leadership and investment in having a health specialist. Health Specialist works closely with Washtenaw Health Department for contact tracing. Health Specialist will interview staff members to find AAPS close contacts. Other contacts are for the Health Department. Then the district notifies close contacts and advise to stay home. AAPS does not issue official stay home order, that will come from Health Department.

They also provide support

There have been 2 cases among AAPS Staff and have learned from the process of these cases. Laws around confidentiality will be followed. Names will not be shared when notifying of exposure.

There is a new Family Q&A on how they are preparing to go back and protect families.

What would it look like if someone in a school or cohort tests positive?

There are a couple paths. Staff will call district team right away. Determine who were their close contacts during infectious plan. Quarantine close contact for 14 days. For students, they will switch to virtual. And they will check in to see if the contact has what they need to stay home for 14 days. Health Department provides nurse check-ins for those tested positive or quarantined at home.

For students & families we hope they will notify the Health Specialist when they have a positive test to get the process started as soon as possible.

In elementary if there is a case in a cohort, and they have stayed in their small group and they aren’t interacting with others, just the classroom cohort would be quarantined. This is a strategy to not close the whole school.


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Trustee Questions

Kelly: If a student quarantines, do they stay in A2 Classroom Connect right? They don’t switch to A2 Student Link right. 

Correct they will stay in A2 Classroom Connect but be virtual.

Kelly: If a student test positive, will the whole cohort quarantine?

It depends, but yes, most likely in youngest grades without mask the whole cohort will probably quarantine. The goal is to prevent spread across the building.

Kelly: If a student is home for quarantine, will siblings from other grades be home too?

In talking with health department, this is a grey area. Usually not worried about contact of a contact. But if they’re in the same household as a close contact, this may need quarantine. Siblings of an infected student will be quarantined. Rapid testing is crucial.

Kelly: How will families learn? Will it be like Strep (email) or like a snow day (robo-call)?

So far it has been by personal phone call for close contacts. That way they can answer questions and provide resources. They may communicate cases in other classes via robocall or email.

Kelly: Many people have no-symptoms. Will there be any requirement to return to school after quarantine? Those with definite exposure or those who have tested positive, but also “long-haulers” who are infectious longer?

Returning is based on symptom free including fever free for at least 3 days, plus minimum of 10 days post positive test. Depend on partnership with Washtenaw County Health Department.

Quarantine is 14 days from close contact. Strangely the close contact may need to stay home longer than the infected person.

Kelly: We’ve talked about technology & handwriting books & manipulative that they’ll receive, because access to building could be cut-off with positive cases, will they travel with everything every day.

Swift: It is hopeful that the technology device will remain at home especially at elementary. Still sorting out.

Kelly: No one wants this, but I think it’s a good time for families to consider how complicated in person schooling might be that you might be at home tomorrow. If you don’t have tolerance for agility, maybe consider exploring stable virtual option for at least fall.

Kelly: I’m hearing folks say they want to choose Connect because they want to stay with teachers and friends, but really want all virtual.  Are we equipped for families to choose this or are we relying

Swift: We are fine for families to choose Classroom Connect and remain virtual. The reason for A2 Student Link is we won’t return until there is a vaccine. They want their child to participate with other students who won’t return to school. Same curricula, same AAPS teachers, member of fully virtual community vs guarantee of classroom.

Kelly: Have we found tech to ensure quality to student at home is adequate in hybrid model. 

Dr Kellstrom will address. But AAPS is figuring this out. no matter how they will connect.


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Baskett: Dr Swift we have asked parents to communicate preference by mid-August. How will they enter this?

Swift: We are working on the interface. Email going out next week. We want principals to have that information ASAP for classroom assignments. They are narrowing that down now.

Baskett: If you have not heard from the district next week. who should you reach out to?

Swift: Contact principal by say August 7. Email is best right now, but a phone call can go out.

Baskett: For new students (K, school of choice, etc), they should reach out to school expecting to attend?

Swift: We are still finalizing in-district transfers and verifying students are still attending. We will be in touch via e-mail. Just like every fall we will call if we don’t hear from families.

Baskett: How are folks to communicate probably case? Is it available Friday night, Saturday morning?

Bacalor: Still working out details on how to setup the line like will there be an on-call phone. The executive order for employers requires contact tracing within 24 hours. First case was Saturday at 2p and work was done by Sunday at 2p. The same time restriction does not apply to student or families.

Baskett: Confidentiality. People are put-off that district won’t say Teacher A has it. But we have to respect confidentiality.  How do we balance that with the need to get information out as soon as possible?

Bacalor: We do have a track record of handling. We are not allowed to share names. Part of the process is assuring that it is completely confidential. When contacting people, it’s kept super general just that you have been identified as a close contact. 


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Nelson: Dr Swift when you describe phases with youngest grade moving face to face then the next tier. It is my understanding from other portions that in all cases those who move are volunteers. If families want to stay virtual, they can?

Swift: Yes that was a very important part of the design for us. Classroom Connect needs to leave choice with the parent.

Nelson: I suggest adding that to the slide with the phases of returning.

Lazarus: Followup on return plan with K-2 returning, would that be virtual to hybrid first?

Swift: Yes, virtual to hybrid and monitor that before considering a full return. 

Lazarus: Are we going to go K-2 full face to face or Phase 2 with grade 3-5.

Swift: It depends on public health, but we will probably phase the grades in with hybrid. We will probably be hybrid for a while. When we go full time, we lose social distance, so we have to be to community state where we don’t need social distance before going full-time.

Lazarus: On August 12 I know we’re going to virtual world, are we reaching out to parents other than by emails? Emails get lost, end up in junk, is there any other way we are reaching out? They aren’t sitting through a 5 hour meeting or even want to go to a website.

Swift: Our people will be in personal contact with families that we do not hear from. This is no different than other things. We reach out to community centers, students with IEPs, etc. We won’t wait for people to contact before they followup.

Lazarus: Will there be any mailings?

Swift: They will be going to every household in the community. We want to make sure everyone knows.

Lazarus: Question about the what if scenario? You mentioned elementary would be handled a certain way? How would a middle or high school differ?

Swift: We will be fleshing out those details. It will be more challenging to maintain a small cohort in a secondary setting. The fundamental difference is in 3 course day, the student will be exposed to more people. Also, secondary students will wear masks. So it’s a combination of more protection and more contacts.

Bacalor: Because of masks the risk of transmission is lower. It becomes a scale problem. Methods will be modified and it may take longer to reach everyone. We need more help from the health department on how to manage it.

Lazarus: Will we have procedures like MLB where players need to have 2 negative tests to return?

Bacalor: Unfortunately that is not feasible for us. Those pro sports teams have dedicated labs and can do surveillance testing. We don’t have that access. It would take forever for us to get them back. Maybe in the future it will be.

Lazarus: If AAPS is notified someone is positive, they’ve had their own test. Do we just recommend that contacts have a test done?

Bacalor: There may be an exception if the employee becomes ill during school they might be able to get a test at the district test. Getting a test is up to the person with consolation of doctor and health department. It’s kind of optional at this point. A drive-through drugstore test is taking 2-3 weeks to get results.


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Gaynor: Thank you for leading with equity and responding to Lazarus on making sure families are contacted. When we start up we will have issues with students less engaged and disparity in performance. What assessments will we be looking for and who on staff is responsible for reporting & supporting families

Swift: We’ll focus more when Ms Linden give more info on plan. This fall they are looking at formative assessments inside the lessons. Teacher, Teacher consultant for students with an IEP, principal, counselor. It’s a full court press to get student reengaged. Existing processes will continue.

In the spring staff was following up with students not engaged including knocking on doors – socially distant.

Gaynor: We were scrambling this spring. There was concern about services not provided to students with IEPs

Swift: Good news is teachers and service providers have learned tech systems to deliver this better virtually. It’s still not perfect or seamless. Needs may be that delivering virtual is extremely difficult. We will shine spotlight on students with special needs during another meeting. Over 450 students have received services this summer.

Gaynor: Update on Sports?

Swift; We do have an update. Ms Parks and Mr DeAngelis have an update. Final decision rests with AAPS. Just because MHSAA makes an announcement, that does not mean that will be our approach in the district.

DeAngelis: Representative Council of MHSAA met and released a statement approving a plan to phase in fall sports with low risk and high risk. 

Girls Golf, Boys Tennis, Golf, & Girls Swim/Diving will begin practice on August 12. Indoor practices still cannot be held until August 12. They will have to practice outdoor.

Football, volleyball, boys soccer, field hockey (even though not MHSAA), POM/Cheerleading – practices can begin but they will not have competitions at this time. It will look like now with conditioning and outdoor practices. Decision on competition will be made around August 20. There will certainly be a delay with these.

MHSAA has issued a statement that there will be no scrimmages in August to limit exposure. Sport by sporty guidance outlines to increase precautions.

There will be guidelines on transportation, locker rooms, spectators, 

Boys Water Polo will move to spring. They aren’t MHSAA. State of Indiana is moving football & other sports to spring. There will be continuing discussion. 

We (AAPS) will make our own recommendation on safest way to approach fall athletics.

Lightfoot: On sports I’m concerned that if we’re not having in person class, how can we justify putting our students in sports at risk. Maybe conditioning, but that’s it.


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Lightfoot: Thank you for all the letters including the harsh ones. The community is helping us redirect and refine. I hope the community is listening to the reality and is mindful of the huge undertaking to switch school back on – contractors hired, PPE acquisition and disposal, etc. The team needs to focus on having a solid plan for fall and not the plan moving forward. We need to be focusing on helping all students especially those with special needs. I want teachers to have all the support they need – tech supports, materials, etc.

Lightfoot: If we as employers have to provide 24 hour turnaround on employees, I can see where we’re rotating teachers in and out. If they’re on quarantine we need to move in other staff to do that work? I’m on calls with state level and they talk about the sub-pool and everyone will be pulling on it. Thank you Dr Swift for breaking it down to the simplest way with the pictures. The simplest way we can communicate. What is the requirement for notifying parents?

Bacalor: No the governor’s executive order didn’t lay out a timeline for notifying parents. But we know sooner is better.

Kelly: Typically guidelines fo returning is 24 hours symptom free. COVID guidelines are 3 days. If the family doesn’t have a positive test, we don’t know if it’s COVID. What protocol do we use?

Bacalor: We will use typical protocol of 24 hours symptom free. This is another challenge. There are many other illnesses that have symptom overlap of fevers and coughing. Hopefully we will beef up the existing protocol. We are just enforcing the health department’s protocol for positive tests and can’t force a test.

Baskett: I want to address the sub pool. If we’re going virtual are we able to pull subs nationally if they’re accredited in Michigan. 

Swift: We probably could, but because of disruption our team and employee group partners are looking at arrangements where people will be engaged in teams all the time. Our hope is to minimize the use of subs. Once we’re in the building it will be harder to have a sub to break a cohort group.

Please hold that thought on subs. We’re trying to look at full time building assigned subs and still ironing it out. We won’t be using the sub pool like we have in the past.

Baskett: I’m sure our requirements will be higher than they have in the past of “any live body”

Baskett: About sports: If it’s up to us anyway, I look forward to hear what their recommendation for local. I think the sooner the better to make a decision. My fear is they’re just kicking the can down the road for someone else to make the decision. If it’s up to us I’d like to make it sooner rather than later. Pursuant to that, I was thinking what’s homecoming without a homecoming game. What does the school year look like, how different is it? Will there be PTO meetings? Will there be other changes to standard school year events.


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Johnson: Districts that have promised something else, also have to put together this plan for virtual. We’re starting at a state that we may have to return to. My hope is that we see the complexity of the task. We’re trying to be a lot of things to many people and succeeding in many ways. I think the quality is important even if we can’t provide every wrinkle a family wants. I am concerned is this too much customization?

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Schoology Update

Summer Learning was set as a time to work with Schoology and implement it.

We have been collecting feedback and concerns about Schoology especially at lower elementary. We have engaged in a lively discussion among elementary teachers about the best plan for the fall. That process is still in motion and we don’t have a decision yet, but we want an update.

Dr Kellstrom: Schoology is a Learning Management System. We talked about the need for this in May from early experience in remote learning. It offers equitable, safe, and sound environment. Teacher & learning would be centralized. There would be space for interactions and collaborations.

Where feedback to students and families, 

Metaphors: Schoology is a tool box. It holds all our tools and keeps everyone on track.

There were lots of tools this spring. Apps like SeeSaw, Flipgrid, EdPuzzle are tools.

For implementation they’re iterating implement, test, revise.

Two types of feedback & data – systems how the platform is performing. 85000+ student logins 26000+ teacher logins. Over 115937 logins system wide. It uses a single sign-on with google id.

Creation – teachers have created 24838 types of materials – assignments, links, files, pages, discussions. When you post items you want 31950 student and teachers that are submitting learning.

We have had 305,948 views within Schoology. They’re using multiple hits on resources.

Call volume relates to tech usage and design. When summer school started lessons, outside platform contributed almost 1000 calls. When kids got into Schoology the first day of middle school there were 195 calls because of a Google Meet problem (security change was rolled out). Day 2 was 2 phone calls and Day 3 was 0 phone calls.

The other feedback is technology adoption. Targeted teachers at lower levels and see what issues they’ve had and doing feedback cycles PreK/K, 1/2, tomorrow is grades 4/5. They’ve seen growth in use of platform especially around day 7 with discussions on online delivery. There are a few critical areas to work on through the rest of summer. Devices is a big area. Looking at purchase of unified devices so students and staff don’t have to troubleshoot family devices – out of date OS/browsers, batteries, etc.

Looking at offer help for staff of best ways to do things like add a video, use assignment feature to monitor progress & inform instruction.

Lower grades will likely need a slow roll-out. Try with one piece and get used to that then roll out another piece.

Unified content shelves in PreK/1 – more picture/label based. How to improve that

There is lots of professional development available for staff on Schoology. There are a couple of self-paced options for staff. There have been 930 staff members that have completed or working on completing the Getting Started with Schoology. That is how to log in, look through student eyes, create your content. There’s also one for Building Leaders and a new one for Engaging Parents with Schoology.

The teaching & learning council has PD plans to roll-out everyday procedures. Those are good ways to get the teachers rolled out.

Swift: Couple points of concern are classes able to meet together and the “big blue button”. Can you talk about class meetings.

Big Blue Button is a conferencing tool inside Schoology. Teachers either love it or hate it. You see the teacher, but students are more hidden. Built that this was mini lesson phase so distractions are less. Then students connect and meet in breakout rooms. This is more of an instructional decision.

Google Meets is also available as it was all spring.

We like having different video conferencing tools. District is also piloting a third option that has been tested in a secure fashion (she wouldn’t say, but basically did that it is Zoom).


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Also working on when you would use Schoology vs SeeSaw and when you would transition over to SeeSaw. One of the issues is that SeeSaw doesn’t use a static URL making it difficult. A static URL capability is in beta with SeeSaw and close to being released.

Trustee Questions on Schoology:

Kelly: In the old days, kids would go to work, have projects, do work, bring home armloads of paper. The projects will now be uploaded to Schoology. How is it cleaned out that content from age 11 isn’t still floating around in 10 years?

Kellstrom: Work over time gets archived. It’s all private and AAPS controls the information. We need to get all of our students in and see if we do truly delete or put in an archival piece. Each class has a window to be lived than goes to an archive.

Kelly: Will parents have option to have child’s stuff destroyed after some time. 

Kellstrom: Every year we look at our data and decide what to purge and what to keep. We need to see more interactions and see what teachers & students want to keep.

Swift: I’m hearing there is an internal regulation we need to investigate and consider. Can we return to sound question?

Kellstrom: First make sure teachers have access to what they need. Their ladybug and USB from their classroom. They have done some practice sessions to see how noisy things are. We need to test more. All iPads testing, they’re getting ready to get home. Chromebooks testing. Also working on how to turn on closed captioning, getting materials ready for screencastomatic. 

Gaynor: Just an anecdote – I got kicked out of Zoom, took 30 minutes to get on a Schoology training yesterday with a tech issue. There was never a glitch like this with live teaching.

SeeSaw question: Will SeeSaw be usable to early grades? 

Kellstrom: Yes, SeeSaw will be available to use in the fall. It can currently be accessed by a link to the SeeSaw image or through a Clever badge.

Gaynor: Thank you, most parents have liked SeeSaw.


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Lazarus: I realize all the work it takes to get to this point with new platform, software, launching 18000 devices. Even before we voted on Schoology freezing issues were identified by other users. Have we had issues with that.

Kellstrom: Schoology was purchased by PowerSchool. There’s only one time I know of since COVID that there was a Schoology outage. It has been working every day since we made the purchase. 

PowerSchool is a powerful organization with good server capacity.

Schoology usually takes 6 months to implement, we did it in 5 weeks and haven’t noticed any problems.

Lazarus: On data warehousing, is that offsite in the cloud or dow we have our own?

Kellstrom: It’s a cloud based tool. They host the data and it meets all federal standards.

Lazarus: Training. I know we have a week to distribute tech and get people trained, but we have 12000 kids to train in a week assuming the 5000 kids in summer school are ready to go. For parents/students who need more help, have we considered some safe social distance training?

Kellstrom: We’ve talked about it. We’ve tasked team member to work on Connectivity and to talk about socially distant training strategically in communities. We also have a well used hot-line with 14,000 calls.

Swift: The Connect+ groups many community leaders will participate in Schoology training so they can help with students in the group.

Kellstrom: We also worked some of this in the spring as we got devices and hotspots to the homeless students.

Lazarus: I had the pleasure of being a guinea pig the other day and made a mistake. It made me realize that parents have concerns and they realize the financial reason, is that the one to one is to make sure the computers are updated, not conflicting with other logins. These are the resources that we need to deliver technology that won’t frustrate students or parents the one to one plan is a big part of it.

Lazarus: My last question is about parent’s access. What do parents see? Why do they need their account.

Kellstrom: It’s an easy way to send communication at a district, building, and classroom communication. Parents can pop into any of their child’s classroom and see their assignments and successes. That can happen at all levels. Even a PreK teacher, was so excited to have a grade book to provide feedback through a rubric of where they should be.

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AAPS COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan Policy

Mr Comsa, Ms Langford and their teams have worked on the a number of plans that all fit together.

This is a workplace plan for employees and visitors. “What is the district doing to provide for safety of employees and visitors?” Its purpose is to decrease the risk to employees, contractors, and visitors. The return to school plan affects students.

The meeting is 3.5 hours in, and this doesn’t apply to students, so I am going to take a I am going to take a 5 minute break.

From what I saw, much of this was covered in Ms Bacalor’s updates and question answers.


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AAPS COVID-19 Return to School Plan

Return to School Plan is part of the governor’s order that must be submitted to WISD by August 15 and to the state by August 17.

Ms Langford: COVID-19 Return to Schools Plan. Complements the Response Plan which covers employees.

Incorporates protocols on Return to School Road Map and Executive Order.

AAPS must follow guidelines based on region and guidelines. Washtenaw County is Region 1 and we are currently in Phase 4.

  • Safety
  • Mental & Social Emotional Well Being
  • Instruction
  • Operations

In Phase 1-3, AAPS will suspend in person instruction, athletics, and after-school activities. For the most part school buildings will be closed. Only necessary workers and licensed childcare (if the district provides any).

In Phase 4, although permitted in person instruction is at the discretion of the local school district.

We would require face masks in common areas including classrooms. Grades K-5 do not need them if they remain in the classroom throughout the day. Social distancing will be required to the maximum extent feasiblity. Will consult with Washtenaw Health Department on student screening and on any cases.

The Phase 5 plan is almost identical to Phase 4 except in person instruction is required.

In Phase 6 there will be in person instruction, continue to teach healthy hygiene, and work with the health department if there are any cases.


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Trustee Questions Return to School Plan:

Nelson: When we hear in an executive order, we hear of restrictions on number of people in an indoor space. Does that apply to schools? And if so how? Or is there a separate rule for schools?

Langford: Under the current plan social distancing is recommended by the Road Map. There is not a specific number of group size allowed in an indoor space. 

Swift: It’s been one of the fundamental disconnects in the process of return to school plans and state gathering guidelines

Lauzzana: We hear about factories and other businesses reopening. Schools have one of the highest density of people per square feet short of movie theaters, sports arenas, and airports. Creating social distance in a school building is more difficult. We will have a future presentation on re-occupancy with ways to maximize social distancing.

Nelson: So I should assume a limit on gathering in the executive order doesn’t apply to a school gathering. But the six feet distancing requirement isn’t completely ignored. We’re supposed to try to follow it, but if we can’t we aren’t breaking the rules. Correct

Langford: That is correct.

Nelson: That is kind of sobering how we’re dealing with gatherings for education and it is much less stringent than other gatherings like family reunions. Is that a fair appraisal?

Langford: I agree. Obviously if schools open face to face there will be more people than other guidelines.

Lazarus: I haven’t been in a building in awhile. In return to school plan, it says we need hand sanitizers and other devices where we don’t typically have them, plexiglass dividers, sneeze guards, moving furniture. Are we actually doing this in all our buildings right now hoping we can go back to hybrid model at least? Can we go back when science says right away or waiting a few weeks for preparation? Or are we spending money in prep we might not need?

Swift: He has a good presentation in this area. It is ready, just hasn’t made it to the board agenda yet. Up until early July we were still planning to return in person.

Lauzzana: Extensive work is done. In only doors, drinking waters, hand sanitizer stations, spacing markers, plexiglass dividers. But there is still work to be done. We are operating under the assumption that school will return in a hybrid mode.

Lazarus: I don’t think we’re wasting our money with touchless water fountains, more handsanitizer stations, etc.

Gaynor: I thank Trustee Nelson for bringing up gathering limits. There has been an issue of staff not having adequate internet activity. Can they have access to school?

Swfit: We are considering that. There is no answer right now. If we roll back to Phase 3 we don’t have that option. Some districts are requiring teachers to teach from classroom, we are not.


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Lightfoot: It’s a balancing act of spending money on preparation of in person or improving virtual. There are lots of nuances to how to balance need. And am interested if there are ways to reevaluate prior spending decisions to see if they still make sense.

Nelson: What fund does money come from for these provisions within buildings?

Lauzzana: Three sources of revenue for physical alterations – general fund for salaries and maintenance fund that we try to minimally use, sinking fund, and bond fund. The bond is the broadest set of usage. Additional custodial equipment can be purchased with bond fund. Disinfectant that goes into the equipment is from the general fund. Disposable generally have to be from the general fund. There’s also the CARES Act with potential new funding. I think that is going more to staffing and educational purchases.

Swift: We are still awaiting guidance on use of the CARES money. We are all advocating for the next infusion of dollars. It is our intention not to leverage general funds. 

Minnick: We received some CARES federal money and identified what we can attribute to that. We will be getting more CARES dollars to replace reduced state dollars. We don’t have written guidance yet on these funds. We do have Senate Bill 690 $12.32/pupil allows COVID related expenditures to transition from in person to virtual this spring. Plus, we have additional funds in technology bond.

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Technology Purchase

Johnson: We will be voting on the technology purchase tonight

Swift: In the spring we distributed thousands of devices. We find that many parents are wanting to use device at home, and we appreciate that, yet we find a student with a district device that has grade level apps pre-loaded is so much smoother. Plus, many families had children sharing devices which worked this spring when we were asynchronous.

The IT desk took like 14000 calls many of which were the result of outside devices. We are grateful for support of the tech bond. We wouldn’t have time to pass a bond and deploy devices. But because we have it, we are requesting to purchase device so every child has their own district issued device and not sharing with a sibling.

It’s a $4.2 million dollar request to equip students, para-educators, and other employees who previously shared or used desktops. The iPads were purchased for PreK-1 and grades 2-12 will have chromebooks.

Questions: 

Lazarus: Quick question. This is for 13,000 devices. We have 18000 students and staff. The devices that are in students hands now, will we ask parents to bring them back and re-issue.

Kellstrom: Many of devices distributed already are end of life and we will collect. The 13000 go with the newer 2500 in buildings and 2800 iPads from February. We also have 400 teacher laptops from the last generation being converted for staff. And some other devices already in possession.

Lazarus: For students who have trouble with mouses have we looked at stylus. 

Kellstrom: We’ve looked at mice, stylus, bluetooth keyboards, etc. We’ll get our first set of chrome books and run it through testing and get devices that will work accordingly.

Swift: We do have a dedicated staff member for assistive technology so that students with special needs have the proper accommodations – visual needs, motor needs, etc.

Lazarus: This $4.2 million needs to be approved on a special briefing because of the urgent and it is from the 2018 technology bond, not the 2019 bond.

Kellstrom: The Chromebook purchase comes quick because there’s been a logjam of getting devices. Chromebooks are like toilet paper right now. We have to be ready to act as they become available.

Lazarus: We feel we will get these in time? 

Kellstrom: Yes, the company was able to purchase 100,000 and we’re top of the list.

Lazarus: We’ll be pushing out the updates and apps that kids will need. 

Kellstorm: Yes, as we marry tools to Schoology we’ll be able to update. We can monitor system is functioning, battery is functioning, etc.

Swift: This is the statewide pricing and why we are not seeing multiple bids. We have the very best price.

Nelson: It’s important to all students but especially lower and middle income students. This helps provide equity. Thank you to the community for approving a bond like this.

Kelly: I understand we are recalling end of life devices, the district had a lot of devices beforehand. There won’t be any just sitting waiting for phase 6?

Kellstrom: Any year about 1/4-1/3 need to be replenished. We’re pulling back 5300 that can be deployed. It’s the ones with older OS and can’t be updated that are end of life.


Kelly: These are going to be customized by grade band. It’s amazing. Is there a reason to limit learning accessibility tools for students with 504 plans, but can some be accessible to everyone.

Kellstrom: We own district license for many of the apps as universal learning tools. 

Kelly: They can be great tools for helping. I’d love to see a Wednesday enrichment class to learn how to use UDL options.

Swift: That’s a great idea. Thank you

Kellstrom: We work with accessibility team leaders and will hold open workshops.

Kelly: I know some programs like DTEP or journalism have big computer programs that run software that the chrome books probably can’t handle. 

Kellstrom: We’re working on Adobe currently with yearbook. Adobe is trying to retool how they deliver to work on Chromebooks. On the tech team we have someone who does instructional media. They do have devices they probably can retool and get out. We can look at a sporadic lab where you might be given a keyboard to connect to not share the device as much.

Kelly: When families receive devices in other situations, parents worry about liability. I don’t want families to feel they can’t have full experience. How do we assure families it’s ok to use devices.

Kellstrom: The messaging has to be we’re not trying to burden you. But work with kids to make sure they find a safe place to charge it, store it. We’ll have check out of spares, we have warranties. We’ve tried to be mindful. We picked durable devices, we have cases, spill resistance. They used the devices well this spring.

Kelly: Are families expected to sign?

Kellstrom: Yes, they’ll sign. We’ve worked with families where a true accident has happened and they’ve worked with them.

Kelly: This isn’t just flippantly spending money. This is learning. This is the schoolhouse right now.


Lightfoot: I just want to reiterate that it’s amazing – the work that went into the bond. Are there folks we contracted with to provide services that we need to make adjustments for virtual?

Kellstrom: The problem has really been getting the physical devices. There as a logjam before COVID due to trade issues getting chips from China. Because we have buying power as a big district, it’s easier to get devices.

Lightfoot: Do we need printers at all?

Kellstrom: The goal right now is paperless class. We’ll see. WE are looking at 3D printing for PLTW. But we haven’t had a big request for paper printing.

Lightfoot: End of life for devices. What happens to them?

Kellstrom: They are in different buckets. Some that have been damaged we take parts from for repairs. Recycle for those with batteries that are dead or shell is dead. We maximize life and use them to the end.


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Board Action on Technology Purchase

The Board voted yes on the Technology Purchase. The motion was made by Lightfoot and seconded by Nelson. Yes votes by Lazarus, Gaynor, Lightfoot, Kelly, Nelson, Baskett, and Johnson. The motion carried. The purchase is approved.


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Other Agenda Items

Other items on the agenda include

  • Approving minutes for June 24, July 15, and July 22
  • Resolution to designate Director and Alternate Director to the Metropolitan Association for Improved School Legislation (MAISL) Joint Risk Management Trust
  • Items from the Board

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