Ann Arbor Back to School Updates - August 5

Updates on Ann Arbor Public Schools Back to School Plans – Week of August 3

Ann Arbor Public Schools continues to release updates Back to School for Fall 2020. There is no board meeting this week, but an email was sent to families previewing the enrollment form and Dr Swift released an update video.

Read below for a summary of both the email and the video. The video is included here for your reference.


Enrollment Form for K-12

An enrollment form with 3-4 questions will be sent to every family enrolled at AAPS. The first question, is asking you to choose your learning option for Fall 2020. This is a registration question and is choosing your option for fall. The district is asking the other questions for information in planning purposes, but these are not binding questions.

Learning Options for 2020-2021

As covered previously, there are three program options for fall. They will all feature AAPS teachers, curricula, and programs. New for this update is the availability of A2 Virtual+ to elementary students.

As a reminder, Ann Arbor Public Schools is starting in a fully virtual state for 2020, no matter which option you select.

A2 Student Link

A2 Student Link is a fully virtual option. Students in A2 Student Link are members of a virtual classroom that is linked to their enrolled school. This is a good option for families who plan to remain fully virtual at least for Fall 2020 if not the full 2020-2021 school year.

Instruction will be provided via live video in blocks during the school day. Each block will include time for individual assignments, projects, extra help, and other activities. (See more details below)


A2 Classroom Connect

A2 Classroom Connect will start as a fully virtual option and migrate to a hybrid learning environment. Students will be assigned to a class and teacher at their enrolled school. When conditions allow, A2 Classroom Connect will transition from fully virtual to a mix of some students virtual and some students in-person. Students will be allowed to remain or shift to fully virtual within their A2 Classroom Connect Class.

A2 Virtual+ Academy – Now Avaailable Young 5s-12th Grade

A2 Virtual+ Academy is an independent self-paced learning environment. AAPS teachers provide written feedback and a weekly live connection. A2 Virtual+ Academy has been offered at the high school level and for certain middle school classes for many years. Based on parental request, it is now an option for Young 5s through 12th grade.

A2 Student Link vs. A2 Virtual+ Academy

A2 Student Link is a good choice for students who like to engage with a group of learners. A2 Virtual+ is for a student learning independently.

A2 Virtual+ As a Supplement

This question will only apply to grades 6-12. AAPS wants to know if they would like to take an A2 Virtual+ class in addition to their A2 Student Link or A2 Classroom Connect course load. For high school students, they can also take some of their regular classes through A2 Virtual+ while primarily enrolled through A2 Student Link or A2 Classroom Connect.

Information on this will be sent to those who say Yes. I plan to answer yes, even if we decide not to take this option once we see more details of our daughter’s schedule and how this would work.

Connections + Program

AAPS was inspired by families with resources creating pods to support their children in virtual learning. They have adapted this idea to form the Connections+ Program to support students with the greatest needs – those with IEPs, financial needs, and childcare needs.

Connections+ provides support in two ways. It will support students in accessing virtual classroom. It will also provide wrap-around support for mental health, food & nutrition, basic necessities, and IEP accommodations.

Connect+ Learning Groups will be offered in conjunction with community partners. It may include a small group of students (5-6) with 1-2 staff member from community partner and an AAPS staff member to ensure learning supports continue. It is for students for whom virtual learning presents the greatest challenge – family situation, second language learners, learning supports needed, etc.

Families can self-identify as needing this resource in the survey. The district is also gathering information from principals, community partners, etc to identify students who need this.

The goal is for Connect+ Learning Groups to meet Face to Face as long as Ann Arbor is in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. If we roll back to Phase 3, the Connect+ groups will continue virtually.


Returning to School Question

AAPS is preparing for students to return in person. They are focusing on physical plant (air filtration and more) and other changes to return to the school building. They will begin with the youngest students and those with the greatest need and monitor the data. Then, they will move to older students. The plan laid out on July 29 was students in early elementary, then students in upper elementary, then secondary students.

AAPS wants to know where your family is on the return to in-person learning. This is not binding, but helps them to plan at different levels for possible capacity. Options range from As Soon As AAPS Opens to Not This School Year with a Not Sure option available.

Other Questions

The email primarily covered the information needed to fill out the form. In the video, Dr Swift continued to answer some frequently asked questions as posed by Andrew Cluley..

Concerns about Screen Time

Cluley: How flexible can students be with their schedule? Many parents want more flexibility especially in elementary school day.

Swift: We have heard parents concerns and are modifying plans. A new sample schedule with a flexible day will be published soon. Core academics will be from 8:30a-1:20p on Monday-Tuesday and Thursday-Friday. Each block might begin with a direct lesson, but will transition to a more independent work time. It won’t be all looking at a screen. It will be interactive, activity, assignments, etc.

The afternoon block (1:20-3:20p) will include other opportunities. Maybe reading intervention, advanced reading groups, specials, physical activities. But families who want to be logged off in the afternoon can be.

Cluley: What happens if families have scheduling issues and morning doesn’t work one day a week?

Swift: They can still watch the interactive part on demand 24/7. It will allow students to catch up if they miss something or re-watch a section they are struggling with.

If you don’t want to be interactive at all, look into A2 Virtual+.


Supports for Special Needs

Cluley: What type of supports will AAPS offer?

Swift: Team of service providers have worked over the summer. Over 500 students with IEPs received summer services virtually. In the block day there is a second half of each block that the teacher consultant or special provider can provide supports that they get at school virtually.

Many parents of special needs students want to be among the first to return to in person learning. The district is planning for that.

What will Online Learning Look Like?

Cluley: Many weren’t happy with spring online learning. How will it be different this fall?

Swift: What we are looking at for fall is very different than spring. 350+ teachers and 5000+ students participated in summer school with new tools that allow interactive, group meetings, assignments, grades, etc all in one location. There will be less emails and everything will be located in one place.

There will be interactive, AAPS curricula. AAPS 2020-2021 curricula is being redesigned to catch up from March 2020 and for virtual.


How Can Parents Reach Out?

Yesterday, received 22 pages of feedback from the PTO Council, so your school’s PTO is a great option. Email for general question, comment, concern:

The plan is being updated weekly based on parent feedback.

Frequently Asked Questions are available on the district website.

August 31 Week

Parents and Students can pick up devices and school materials so they are ready to start learning on September 8.

More Information

There will be a special superintendent update for each level – Elementary, Middle School, and High School in the next week.

After that will be Back to School meetings virtually at each school. Students and families will get more information about their school and grade specific information.

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