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2020 Coronavirus School Closures » Superintendent Updates Regarding COVID19

Superintendent Updates Regarding COVID19

Dear Northville Public Schools Families, Staff and Community,

Thank you for your ongoing patience, and for the many ways in which our community continues to come together in support of our students, our teachers, and our schools as we navigate new territory, and for the ways in which our community has rallied to support those in need, and those on the front lines of addressing this public health crisis. Our thoughts also remain with everyone personally impacted by loss of loved ones, as COVID-19 takes its toll on our community. We are likewise mindful of the fact that we are all grieving “normalcy” along with our own unique losses during this time.
 
The extended school closure remains a disappointing, but necessary step taken to slow the spread of COVID-19, and protect the health and safety of our community. As we continue to grapple with what “school” looks like during this crisis, we are considering that our students, like all of us, need time for learning, playing, coping, healing and processing. We know that our students need opportunities for connection with their peers and with their teachers; and that mentally and physically we do better when we are on a schedule, and when we are fueled with proper sleep, food, and movement. We have tried to balance these considerations as we approach moving from a short term school closure to the reality of finishing out the school year.
 
As noted in my April 3, 2020 communication, we have been developing a plan to shift from our current weekly Home Learning Support framework to a Distance Learning Instruction model, consistent with the Continuity of Learning Plan requirements outlined in the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-35 (COVID-19) issued on April 2, 2020, with a target date of April 13, 2020 to begin implementation.
 
Our NPS Continuity of Learning plan was developed in collaboration with teachers, instructional leaders, parents, district administrators, school board members, and local employee groups. An initial draft of the plan was presented to the Board of Education on April 7, 2020, and was further revised with additional stakeholder input and reviewed at the April 9, 2020 Board of Education meeting. For your awareness, the only substantive change between the first and second drafts of the Continuity of Learning Plan was to reduce the number of synchronous, or scheduled “live” sessions planned at each level. We have not reduced the opportunity to continue coursework in each class, instead, these opportunities will be available through online access whenever convenient for the learner. This affords flexibility for those who prefer to follow the school schedule to do so, while those who find the school schedule challenging are able to access new content in other ways.
 
The plan will be implemented over the course of next week, beginning on April 13, 2020. As the plan is implemented, teachers will have the latitude to make individual adjustments based on the needs of students, and our principals and District leaders likewise will continue to seek the feedback and input of students, parents and teachers as we navigate through the coming weeks.
 
The Continuity of Learning plan is based on these Guiding Principles:
  1. Keeping Students at the Center by building and maintaining student and family connections; offering routines and structures for consistency and balance of think time, work time, and play time for health and wellbeing; and recognizing that this will not look the same for every student and family.
  2. Designing Learning for Equity and Accessibility by planning and delivering content in multiple ways so all students can access learning; teaching content standards; delivering flexible instruction; and communicating with families to support students as they access the learning.
  3. Assessing Student Learning by checking for understanding, providing feedback to learners, and making instructional adjustments based on student needs.
Continuity of Learning Plan Communication
In the coming days, you will receive communication from your child’s building principal and teacher(s) along with any applicable service/support providers outlining the information below in greater detail, including the routines and structures specific to each grade level and classroom/ course.
 
Important Note: While we are beginning our plan on April 13, 2020, the shift to this learning plan will have a gradual roll out and will build on the existing Weekly Learning Plan so that teachers, students and families become more comfortable with this shift. It is our intent and hope that we will be flexible and give grace to one another.
 
Continuity of Learning Plan Overview
In the plan that begins next week, you will see consistent opportunities for connecting with teachers along with the shift to instruction/new learning. The following gives you an overview of what you can expect as we implement the Continuity of Learning Plan:
 
ALL Levels can expect the following:
  • Students and/or families will receive a student schedule indicating when each grade or content level classroom, small group, or individual ‘face-to-face’ live interactions are available.
    • The blocks of time are reserved for live interactions by grade or course in order to avoid overlaps.
    • Length of each face-to-face session will be communicated directly from your teacher, and varies based on developmental appropriateness, and the purpose of the session.
    • Whenever possible and appropriate, teachers will record scheduled “live sessions” that include new learning; keep in mind that many of the “live” sessions will be opportunities for discussion of pre-recorded lessons or assignments, an opportunity to ask questions, or connect with the teacher and peers.
  • Students will also receive learning links, pre-recorded lessons, resources and assignments for learning from their classroom teachers so that students can access at any time.
    • This support is structured such that parents/students can participate within their individual family scheduling needs.
    • New learning will focus on those concepts most important for the content area or course for the remainder of the year.
    • Parents/Students can plan individually when and how they will engage in this instruction
  • Teachers will be available for individual parent/student support at designated times during the week and/or at a mutually agreed upon time.
  • Families should communicate unique family needs with teachers and building principals to support and develop possible alternatives to meet unique needs.
 
We continue to encourage families to participate in the learning opportunities and components of the Continuity of Learning Plan that best meet the needs of each student and family. We recognize that the needs of each family vary widely, and that circumstances may change over the course of the next few weeks and months. Students will not be penalized for non-participation. There will be opportunities over the summer and/or when school resumes in the Fall to address gaps in learning and/or complete credits not achieved during the school closure period.
 
As the Continuity of Learning Plan is launched, we are finalizing decisions about third quarter report cards, grading procedures, and timelines within the next week. We will revise and add to our Frequently Asked Questions on an ongoing basis. Thank you for your partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the learning, safety, health and well-being of all.
 
Take care and be well,
Mary Kay Gallagher
Superintendent
Yesterday, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-35 (COVID-19), a comprehensive order that effectively closes all K-12 Michigan schools for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
While this is a necessary step to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of our community, we know that it is a heartbreaking loss for our students, our families and our staff, and particularly for our seniors, who looked forward to the many traditions and celebrations associated with graduation. While there are still many more questions than there are answers at this point in time, please know that we are committed to working together with our students, our families and our staff to acknowledge our grief, support one another, and figure out ways to redefine, reschedule and/or celebrate milestones in different ways.

Northville Public Schools has been developing our plan to shift from our current weekly Home Learning Support framework to a Distance Learning Instruction model, in anticipation of an extended school closure. The NPS Board of Education, at its 3/31/20 meeting, voted unanimously in favor of directing administration to “develop and implement a distance learning instruction plan by April 13, 2020, including taking those steps necessary to ensure appropriate and equitable distance learning for all students.”

We are in the process of further developing our Distance Learning Instruction plan for an April 13th launch, taking into account stakeholder feedback received over the past few weeks, and the input of our instructional staff. We are also reviewing the directives outlined in today’s Executive Order, which includes a requirement to submit a district Continuity of Learning – COVID -19 Response Plan to the Intermediate School District for approval prior to implementation. The template for this requirement will be available from the Michigan Department of Education on April 3, 2020, and can be submitted for approval beginning on April 8, 2020, with implementation required by April 28, 2020. Barring any delay in plan approval, Northville Public Schools will implement our Distance Learning Instruction plan on April 13, 2020.

Families can anticipate receiving a Weekly Home Learning Support plan for the week of April 6-10, 2020, our scheduled Spring Break, and are encouraged to utilize it in a manner that best meets the needs of their students/family. Please note that teachers will be preparing for the launch of our Distance Learning Instruction Plan, and therefore will not be scheduling check-ins or meeting with students over Spring Break.

Here are a few key points of the Governor’s Executive Order for your awareness:
 
  • All school buildings remain closed to the community, staff and students with the exception of essential staff members performing operational tasks.
  • High school seniors who were on track to graduate prior to school closures will graduate, those not on track will have opportunities to get back on track. Kindergarten through eleventh grade students who are on track for promotion will be promoted. Students will not be academically penalized due to the consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • State mandated student testing including the M-STEP and PSAT are temporarily suspended for the 2019-2020 school year. The “Read by 3rd Grade” requirement has also been temporarily suspended.
  • School employees within the K-12 programs and services for which school districts receive State Aid will continue to be paid. Staff members should work remotely where possible.
  • Food distribution services will continue to be provided for students.
 
As we thoroughly review the impact of the comprehensive Executive Order 2020-35, we will continue to communicate in as timely a manner as possible, along with adding to the COVID-19 Information / Frequently Asked Questions section on our district website. Please continue to forward your questions to principals, our Office of Instruction, Office of Special Services and/or to nps@northvilleschools.org.

By Friday, April 10, 2020, students and families will receive a more detailed communication on the NPS Distance Learning Instruction plan, including details on what you and your child can expect to see from NPS staff, and the expectations for students at each level. As we navigate this new landscape, please know that we are mindful that students, families and staff may be dealing with illness, illness of family members or other extenuating circumstances while managing this new landscape. We will all need to keep this in mind as we strive to support learning, along with the health and wellbeing of our students, staff and families.

Technology Devices Available
As previously noted, technology devices are available for students who do not have access and need to borrow this technology from the district. Please complete this Technology Device Checkout Form to request use of a device. The NPS technology department will follow up via email to give you a scheduled pick up time and location, coordinated with our food pickup options, once it is available. Please see our FAQ for more information about access to devices, along with options for free internet access.

Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to navigate unprecedented times, significant change and uncertainty in a few short weeks. Despite the challenges, I am heartened by the ways in which our students, our staff, and our families have already come together to support one another – and know that new learning most often comes in overcoming adversity and finding ways around barriers.

Finally, please continue to follow the Stay Safe. Stay Home. and social distancing guidance that has been issued by our governmental officials, and monitor/encourage all family members to do the same. For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please refer to:
 
Thank you for your partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the safety, health and well-being of all.

Take care and be well,

Mary Kay Gallagher
Superintendent
Dear Northville Public Schools Community,
 
We are facing an unprecedented global, national and local public health emergency, one in which we are all called upon to take the necessary steps to protect our own health, and the health of others - particularly our most vulnerable community members.
 
In accordance with the Governor’s Stay Safe. Stay Home. Executive Order, and by Order of the Oakland County Health Division, Northville Public Schools has closed all of our school playgrounds and fields, including ALL play structures. 
 
At this time, the tracks at Tom Holzer Ford Field and Northville High School are closed.
 
Signs to this effect are expected to arrive tomorrow, and will be posted/planted at each of our school locations. 
 
Please take steps to monitor and ensure that all members of your family are adhering to these guidelines.  We do not want our police officers/first responders to have to devote their time to monitoring playgrounds. 
 
We know that these are challenging times for everyone, and appreciate the many sacrifices being made, along with the positive steps being taken to help support one another.  
 
Stay safe and be well,
 
Sincerely,
 
Mary Kay Gallagher
Superintendent
Dear Northville Public Schools Families, Staff and Community,

Thank you for your patience and support as we continue to navigate unprecedented times and an evolving public health matter that has brought about significant change and a great deal of uncertainty in a matter of days. Parents were thrust into trying to navigate learning with their children while also managing their own jobs, and our students lost their daily connection to their peers, their teachers, their classroom communities. Our teachers and staff likewise are mourning this loss – while all of us grapple with the worry of COVID-19.
 
In spite of the many challenges, I first want to express heartfelt gratitude to our students, our teachers and staff, and our families for the many ways in which our community has come together in support of one another in the space of only one week. Our educators came together last Friday to identify and deploy several resources, beginning the work of supporting our students and families with access to learning materials. With Michigan Department of Education (MDE) support, we launched a Grab & Go school breakfast/lunch program available to all students, facilitated by our Food Services staff. Already, we’ve seen great examples of our students’ ingenuity, heard stories shared virtually by our principals, had teachers engage with their students in various forums, and were invited into our first digital PTA meeting. I am confident that we will continue to seek ways to connect and support one another as we face the challenges ahead.
 
We are also listening to the questions, concerns and feedback we are hearing from our parents, our students and our staff, as we continue to navigate uncharted territory. We added “Frequently Asked Questions” to the district website last weekend, and we continue to update and add to the FAQ on a daily basis. Please continue to forward your questions to principals, our Office of Instruction, Office of Special Services and/or to nps@northvilleschools.org.
 
School districts across our state (and country) continue to be challenged by the complexities of moving suddenly into a virtual forum, and addressing matters of equity and access for ALL students. The guidance from MDE and the United States Department of Education continues to evolve. As a result, distance learning strategies, as directed by the MDE, cannot be counted as student instructional time during the COVID-19 school closure. MDE has encouraged all districts to continue providing enrichment and supplemental learning opportunities for students, and our plan is set forth below. Guidance on recovering the learning that may be lost during an extended school closing period will come from the Michigan Department of Education.
 
Home Learning Support Framework

Our initial gathering and sharing of learning resources and support was rolled out quickly to all of our families in an effort to ensure that our students had learning opportunities available by Monday, 3/16/20. One week into the process, we’ve heard your feedback that it has been challenging to navigate the many resources and that it would be more helpful to have specific suggested activities, a weekly plan and more connection with our teachers. Teachers have also reported wanting more specific guidance on the ways in which they could connect with students, and continue supporting their classroom communities.

In response to the need for more targeted resources and support for our students and families, our teachers, principals and instructional staff have convened this week to develop a more focused Home Learning Support Framework based on the following goals:
 
  • Provide students with continued academic engagement that is focused on reinforcement and enrichment.
  • Provide students with continued connection with staff.
  • Maintain a sense of structure in the absence of a school day.
  • Reduce the loss of learning and maintain academic perseverance during the disruption in core instruction.
 
On Monday, March 23, 2020, students and families will receive a more detailed communication on the NPS Home Learning Support Framework, including details on what you and your child can expect to see from NPS staff, what we are hoping our students will do, and what parents can do to support this Framework. The plan includes a weekly communication of a learning plan that provides reinforcement and enrichment opportunities. Please know that we will continue to build upon our learning supports throughout this period of closure. With the possibility of an extended closure, we are continuing to work on how our framework needs to adapt to further support our students and community.
 
Technology Device Available
 
As previously noted, technology devices are available for students who do not have access and need to borrow this technology from the district. Please complete this Technology Device Checkout Form to request use of a device. The NPS technology department will follow up via email to give you a scheduled pick up time and location, coordinated with our food pickup options, once it is available. Please see our FAQ for more information.
 
NPS Social Emotional Support Line
 
NPS has added a Social Emotional Support Line that families can access if their child(ren) or family are in need of food service resources and connections to available social emotional services. Please see our FAQ for more information.
 
FREE Breakfast and Lunch Available
 
Breakfast and lunch meals, served under the Unanticipated School Closure SFSP program, are available to all children at no cost to anyone age (18) and under, or up to age (26) if they receive special education services. Please see the FAQ for more information.
 
M-Step, SAT, AP and IB Testing Update
 
On 3/20/2020, the U.S. Department of Education issued a statement that allows states to request waivers that allow additional flexibility, including potential elimination of federally-mandated standardized tests this school year. While we have not received official notice from MDE, we fully anticipate the state will request and be granted a testing waiver in the days ahead. We will continue to monitor and provide you with updated information as it becomes available.
 
The College Board made a determination this afternoon to continue with spring AP tests in an altered format. If this impacts your student, click here for additional information. We anticipate more guidance from the International Baccalaureate (IB) testing organization regarding Diploma Programme assessments. Information will be shared as soon as it is available.
 
At this point in time, we are still planning on returning to school on April, 13, 2020, after our scheduled Spring Break, while also preparing for the possibility of an extended closure. We will remain vigilant in monitoring the ongoing guidance provided by MDE, the Governor, and health officials, and will strive to share timely and accurate information to the extent possible. As always, we value our strong community partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the safety, health and well-being of all.
 
Take care,
Mary Kay Gallagher
Superintendent
Dear Northville Public Schools Families, Staff and Community,
 
First, thank you for your patience and support as we collectively navigate an evolving COVID-19 response plan. Late this evening, Governor Whitmer directed the closure of all K-12 schools statewide from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Sunday, April 5, 2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.
 
The Governor also noted that the number of presumptive positive cases of COVID-19 in Michigan is now 12.
 
In light of this information, and out of an abundance of caution, Northville Public Schools will also be closed tomorrow, Friday, March 13, 2020, with staff reporting for a day of professional development and preparation of resources to support students and families to minimize disruption to learning during the course of this extended school closure. Our offices will likewise be staffed, and a window of times provided for those students/families who may have belongings to pick up at school.
 
All afterschool activities, and events scheduled on Friday, March 13, 2020 through Sunday, April 6, 2020 are likewise cancelled, in accordance with the Governor’s guidance.
 
Please also note that learning at our schools primarily occurs inside classrooms with face-to-face teaching by certified instructors using interactive technology tools. We are committed to providing students and families with resources to support continuation of meaningful learning during school closures, however, we are not suggesting that this replaces instruction. Any guidance on recovering the learning that may be lost during a potential school closing will come from the Michigan Department of Education.
 
We will remain vigilant in monitoring the ongoing guidance provided by our health officials, and in sharing timely and accurate information to the extent possible. We are developing a “Frequently Asked Questions” document with additional guidance/clarification of setting aside attendance policies, resources available to support families, and will address specific questions students, families or staff members may have over the coming days and weeks.
 
We understand that closing school can be difficult for our families, this is a highly unusual situation that calls for our careful and thoughtful response in order to maintain safe and secure learning environments for our students and our staff. As always, we value our strong community partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the safety, health and well-being of all.
 
Sincerely,
Mary Kay Gallagher
Superintendent
Dear Northville Schools Community,
 
We know that you have questions and concerns. We are currently working on navigating solutions during this unprecedented situation.
 
The following schedule for picking up essential materials at school on Friday, March 13, 2020 has been shared with the community. More opportunities will be communicated as they become available.
 
Essential materials are any personal items that students will want to have in their possession during this shutdown period. Students may also bring home instructional materials, such as books and notebooks, as allowable, although this is not an expectation.
 
Northville High School: 9:00 AM to 2:30 PM
Cooke Office: 10:00 AM to 2:30 PM
Middle Schools, Elementary Buildings, Early Childhood: 3:00 PM to 5:00 PM
 
More information will be sent out via MiStar and ListServ as it becomes available. Thank you for your patience.
As always, we value our strong community partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the safety, health and well-being of all.