THE DISTRICT DISPATCH Royal Oak Schools news, straight to your inbox

In This Issue

  • District News: Return To School Nov. 9
  • Free and Reduced-Price Meal Program
  • Cleaning and School Tour
  • School COVID-19 Cases
  • Why Vote on the Operating Millage
  • Special Education At Its Finest
  • Time to Sign Up for Preschool
  • Time Capsule Tease
  • Good News from the Audit
  • Toys Needed For the Needy
  • Holiday Guidance Suggestions
  • Available Positions at the District - Now Hiring Custodians
  • Social Media honors Seniors
  • A Churchill Success Story
District News


We all know the saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going!” Like so many of you, Royal Oak Schools has been living that famous phrase since March 2020, when our school year as we’ve known it, came to such an abrupt and unpredictable end. Our staff has taken on the many fluid demands of responding to COVID-19 with tenacity and grace. A sense of normalcy has always been school days, football and soccer games, musicals and parades, poetry readings, concerts and open houses, just to name a few.

Our staff have organized and supplied Chromebooks, textbooks, art materials, and reading books to students across the district. The technology staff opens and closes dozens and dozens of help tickets each week while their services and advice now includes helping parents with in-home wifi and troubleshooting. The food service staff never missed a beat. Our administrators have all extended themselves to serve the school communities relentlessly.

By this time of the year, I would have walked-through every school in the district to visit classrooms, listen and learn. That practice continues now through virtual visits, watching students engage with their teachers and peers, listening to their discussions, ideas and questions, and learning how technology has been able to afford the learning experience to continue. I’m amazed by how our students have navigated through it all under the direction of their teachers and support staff.

At this time, we are planning to begin in-person learning on Monday, Nov. 9. We are in regular contact with the Oakland County Health Division and adhere to the protocols for any reported cases of the virus in our district. Again, we will keep you apprised of this situation with regular updates to our website.

We are fortunate to have such committed partners in our community, as the support for families is at an all-time high. For our school families, I urge you to reach out to your principals if there is something we can help you with this year. For our community, if you have a way to help our students and families, please contact me. Together, we can continue making a difference in the lives of our children. The tough are going strong in Royal Oak.

Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Superintendent

Free and Reduced-Price Meals


While all Royal Oak Schools students are currently receiving free breakfast and lunch, a benefit which is now approved to continue through the 2020-21 school year, a decline in applications for free and reduced-price lunches could lead to a reduction in school funding -- and ultimately in programming cuts that could affect student learning.

The district is grateful that we can provide meals for every student during these difficult times but very few new applications are coming in. Every child that qualifies for free or reduced meals helps determine federal funding. Did you know the federal government uses the number of applications to determine how much money the district receives in other grant funds? So the money isn't just for food. Fewer applications equal fewer federal dollars for our schools so apply today.

Students will continue to receive free meals through the end of the school year, however, families who may qualify for free or reduced-price meals can help support Royal Oak Schools by submitting an application. The 2020-21 free and reduced-price school meals application is available on the Royal Oak Schools website.

Cleaning Protocols In Place


To better protect students and teachers in our community and families at home, Royal Oak Schools has upgraded their cleaning and disinfection with an Enhanced Clean program through their custodial partner, ABM. The following measures are being taken to disinfect spaces in the schools on a frequent and ongoing basis. The enhanced cleaning measures meet or exceed the Michigan Return to School Roadmap.

How Are We Doing Disinfection Differently:

  • Trained + Certified Enhanced Clean team members working in our schools are Certified Disinfection Specialists. Our certification process requires testing, observation, and verification of operational knowledge. Experts visually confirm our disinfection specialists can demonstrate proper use of tools, techniques, and protective equipment.
  • Our Custodial service company’s Advisory Council includes infection prevention and industrial hygiene experts.
  • Our Certified Enhanced Clean Facilitators keep training in step with official guidance and best practices. Standard Operating Procedures + Upgraded Disinfection Protocols identify high-touch surfaces and increase cleaning and disinfection frequency for those high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, faucets, bottle filling stations, etc.
  • Enhanced Clean disinfectants are rated for emerging pathogens and EPA-approved. We have implemented broader disinfection protocols beyond high-touch points periodically. Our staff are trained in social distancing and always wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure their actions and interactions within shared spaces protect everyone’s health.
  • We have a new health screening protocol to help prevent people from coming to work when they are ill.
  • Our disinfection team members always wear the appropriate masks, gloves, and other protective equipment in accordance with CDC guidance. Our custodial service provider, ABM, is well-positioned to be first in line for products from our supply chain network. They partnered with your school leadership to bring students and teachers together in a safer, healthier learning environment. Our team members have committed to clear health and safety practices as part of their certification. Our Enhanced Clean program provides signage to help staff, teachers, and students remain aware of how we can all follow to stay healthy.

Our building teams will follow the required protocols as outlined by the State of Michigan in the back to school plan:

  • All touch points and bathrooms will be cleaned a minimum of every 4 hours
  • All desktops will be cleaned between class changes or rotations
  • Each building will be thoroughly cleaned every evening
  • Each building will receive Electrostatic spraying a minimum of once weekly

Other precautions that have been put in place:

  • Plexiglass has been installed in the cafeterias between the food stations and all cashier positions.
  • All technology and keyboards are being wiped down between each student with approved wipes.
  • Buses are cleaned between each run.

In the event of confirmed exposure, all affected spaces will be cleaned and Electrostatically treated before staff or students reoccupy the space, including designated sickrooms. Electrostatic spraying uses charged particles to coat surfaces and provide for easy large-scale dispersal of EPA-registered disinfectants. Manual cleaning is a necessary first step of any disinfection process. This disinfectant dispersal method increases pathogen droplet attraction, which may help slow the spread of COVID-19. Our custodial service company has selected disinfectants from EPA’s List N to be used with electrostatic and other sprayers. List N disinfectants are deemed effective against SARS-CoV-2. Although the EPA continues to study electrostatic spraying of disinfectants, there is evidence that electrostatic spraying is an effective method of disinfection, especially for hard to reach areas or remote surfaces that may not have been disinfected through manual processes. As part of an overall cleaning and disinfection program, this technology can help create a safe and healthy environment while decreasing cross-contamination risk.

Classrooms have or have been equipped with:

  • Classrooms with sinks have soap for access to hand washing.
  • Regularly scheduled visits to group bathrooms for classes without sinks.
  • Hand sanitizer has been installed in every classroom and space.
  • Signage has been installed to remind students and staff to remain socially distant. In restrooms, signs have been added for maximum occupancy and a reminder to wash hands for a minimum of 20 seconds. Every other sink in restrooms has been disabled to keep students and staff socially distant.
  • Plexiglass and some protective barriers for individual teacher/student meetings have been ordered for each classroom. At every main office, a plexiglass shield has been installed.
  • Furniture has been arranged to be socially distanced.

Watch our cleaning protocol video here. Operations Manager Patrick Murphy walks you through the steps of cleaning our classrooms and keeping our students safe.

Additional information:

COVID-19 Reporting


Royal Oak Schools reports on cases of COVID-19 in the district. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services issued an emergency order requiring districts in the state to report cases within 24 hours of their confirmation. The cases are found in letter form, the same letter that went home to parents, on the district's website.

The order, which went into effect on October 12, requires local health departments to notify schools within 24 hours of learning of a probable or confirmed school-associated case of COVID-19. Upon notification, schools must provide public notification on a highly visible location on the school’s website that covers the impacted building or location within 24 hours. “Timely communication from schools to parents, guardians, students, teachers, staff and other persons affiliated with schools enables members of the school community to take measures to prevent spread of the virus,” said MDHHS Director Robert Gordon. In addition to the public notice, local health departments will continue to provide direct notification to individuals who are, or are suspected of being, a close contact of school-associated case.

You can find our COVID-19 case reporting here: https://www.royaloakschools.org/district/return-to-school/covid-19-information/

In addition to the cases in the schools, you can also see on the Transparency Dashboard cases reported in Oakland County on an interactive map and confirmed cases in Southeast Michigan.

If you're unsure about symptoms you might be having, you can check out the staff and student at-home screening checklist available on our website.

Vote On The Operating Millage Nov. 3


At Royal Oak Schools, we believe strong schools make a stronger community.

The Royal Oak Schools operating millage proposal generates $23 million for general district operations, supports our safe return to school, and represents 46% of our annual operating budget.

Restoring and extending the non-homestead millage will help us continue:

  • Providing a safe learning environment for all students, teachers, and staff
  • Preparing kids for the jobs of the future, including in the skilled trades
  • Providing programming for both special education and general education students

What you need to know before you vote:

  • Royal Oak Schools has a proven track record of success inside and outside the classroom, and this proposal will help us continue building on that proud tradition of excellence and keep our home and property values high.
  • This proposal won't raise tax rates for homeowners over 2020 levels, and restores and extends the non-homestead millage rate, which is levied at 18 mills, for a period of 10 years.
  • The levy of the non-homestead millage is required for Royal Oak Schools to receive its full per-pupil funding from Lansing, and every dollar spent will be tracked to ensure transparency and accountability.

Learn more about the Royal Oak Schools operating millage proposal by clicking here. Remember to turn the ballot over!

  • You can vote on this millage on November 3, 2020.
  • Click here for the exact ballot language.
Special Ed at Royal Oak Schools


There's a lot of good happening in Special Education at Royal Oak Schools.

It has been all hands on deck since September for the special education department. Our occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech pathologists, social workers and teachers have been providing in-person instruction as well as supporting remote learning for our students. In addition, our paraprofessional staff has delivered special hands-on activities to student’s homes.

Nearly 750 students benefit from special services throughout the district. And this fall, these students were some of the first to come back during the pandemic for face-to-face learning. They had to have their temperature taken either on the bus or at the entrance of their school. Teachers wore clear masks or face shields when working with the children. Students also wore a face mask while in school. Additionally, Plexiglass table dividers were added in every classroom in order to provide another protective layer. The classroom filtration system had been adjusted to provide an increased level of outdoor air circulated in the building. And, all materials and equipment was sanitized before and after meeting with the children.

Carly Weberman works with a student in Samantha Hepner's ECSE classroom.
Occupational Therapist, Kaitlen Kinny, works with a Northwood student using markers and PPE!

We are proud of the level of individualized programming our students continue to receive in Royal Oak Schools.

Register Now for Preschool


Preschool classes are starting on November 9. The Addams Early Childhood Center has openings in three-year-old Tuition Preschool, and three and four year-old childcare is available. You can call the office between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to find out about openings at 248-288-3220.

Our preschool includes developmental programs taught by caring and certified teachers who create an optimal educational environment by having more classroom staff and less children than required by licensing. Preschool is held at Addams Early Childhood Center on Webster in Royal Oak.

Check out the Early Childhood page for more information.

Time Capsule Opened


Items found in the Time Capsule.

At a June 2019 Board of Education meeting, Royal Oak Schools staff opened a time capsule from the former Lincoln Elementary. The capsule was put together in 1965, and it was recently rediscovered in an old locker room at Addams Elementary. The capsule was buried by Lincoln’s sixth grade class of 1965. In WOAK’s new documentary, they crack open the time capsule and take a look at the story behind it. The documentary features Lincoln alumni, Kurt Bakker, who has also started a Facebook Group for Lincoln alum to post their memories. Royal Oak sixth graders took a peek into the time capsule and then share their thoughts on what life might’ve been like 55 years ago as a sixth grader as well.

"The Discovery of the Lincoln Time Capsule" debuts this month on WOAK. You can watch it on November 13 at 6 p.m. on WOAK (Comcast & WOW Channel 18), and follow us on Facebook for more information.

We're hoping to figure out more about this cool piece of history. If you have any memories or know anything about the time capsule, please email communications@royaloakschools.org.

Clean Audit for Royal Oak Schools


Royal Oak Schools recently announced the district has received a clean audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The audit, conducted by independent auditor Yeo & Yeo CPAs and Business Consultants, returned no negative findings, found the district has a stable fund balance and is prepared to continue meeting the needs of Royal Oak Schools students now and into the future.

We take great pride in our proven track record of fiscal responsibility, accountability and transparency. That’s why we are excited to share this Oakland Press story about our 2020 audit, which shows our district is on strong financial footing and prepared to meet the unique needs of all Royal Oak Schools students.

Read the Oakland Press story here : Royal Oak Schools finances in good shape, audit says

Royal Oak Schools has a general fund balance of $14.8 million, according to the audit, which meets the target of 15% of expenditures and gives the district enough resources to handle unforeseen emergencies.

“This audit shows our district is well-prepared to continue providing a high quality education that prepares all students for the jobs of the future,” said Superintendent Mary Beth Fitzpatrick.

In a statement from David Youngstrom, an auditor with Yeo & Yeo, he said the school district has a strong fund balance that shows Royal Oak Schools has sufficient funds on hand to meet unforeseen costs, preventing the need to borrow any money, and to cover any state revenue funding shortfalls.

“The district continues to demonstrate strong fiscal stewardship despite reduced revenues for the district and challenges posed by the pandemic,” Youngstrom said.

The audit found the school district maintains responsible financial operations and sets aside enough funds to plan for emergencies “such as the need to purchase additional personal protective equipment or other materials to respond to COVID-19 related issues,” he said.

You can view the full audit report here.

Call To Action: Toys


Can you imagine a Christmas without gifts for a child in need? The Salvation Army doesn't want that to happen and is working hard to provide gifts for children age 0 -14 this holiday season. Their toy drive is underway, but this year, they need more toys than ever.

You can purchase a toy for a child and donate it to the Salvation Army of Royal Oak by December 11. They will do the rest, including the passing out of the gifts to families through an organized drive up.

If you are a family in need, and would like to be considered for receiving gifts, the Salvation Army of Royal Oak is conducting phone interviews. You can call 248-585-5600 to apply.

The Royal Oak Salvation Army holds open registration for assistance for both the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays each year starting the first week of November.

Holiday Guidance

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services wants to remind us all to take care when traveling and gathering over the holiday season.

“Celebrating the holiday season with family and friends is one of our most cherished traditions,” said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health. “Even though the way we celebrate may have to be different, the guidance issued today shows there are still many ways to spend quality time with family and friends safely during this festive season.”

They suggest you continue to maintain social distancing and to wear a mask when around others. But they are also urging Michiganders to consider hosting holiday gathering virtually. For more details on COVID-19 guidance for holiday travel and gatherings, click here.



We're hiring substitute teachers. Red Rover is the district’s partner for substitute teachers, paraprofessionals and secretaries. If you are interested in learning more, please go to app.redroverk12.com for information and to apply.

Individuals interested in working with and caring for school age children before and after school for our Young Oaks (Latchkey) Program should contact the Addams Early Childhood Center at (248) 288-3220.

We're now hiring custodians to join our team of cleaning professionals. Interested individuals can apply here.

For instructional and administrative positions, check the Oakland Schools Consortium portal at http://bit.ly/ROSJobs

Employment opportunities with Royal Oak Schools can be found on our website under Employment/HR. If you have further questions, feel free to contact Beth Caverly at the District Offices: elizabeth.caverly@royaloakschools.org or (248) 435-8400 x1210.

Welcome to new staff members!

  • Jessica Knoll, Math Teacher, Royal Oak High School
  • Haigan Tcholakian, 1/2 Loop, Addams Elementary
  • Miranda Ouellette, 4/5 Loop, Addams Elementary
  • Laura Kaan, 4th Grade, Addams Elementary
  • Rebecca Rea, Speech, Addams ECC
  • Scott Watson, Music, Upton/Addams
  • Sarah Ross, 1st Grade, Oakland

There's always something going on at the district! Follow us on Facebook @RoyalOakSchools and Twitter @RoyalOakSchools and Instagram @roschools for more updates and other news. We also have videos posted on our YouTube page. Check the district website, too, for the latest information.

Speaking of Social Media - we celebrated the seniors last month with senior send-offs in volleyball, soccer, and football. We even covered the sunrise one cold morning with the Class of 2021 on Facebook. You can head over to the Royal Oak Schools YouTube page to check out the ceremonies.

Comments? Story ideas? Send them to: communications@royaloakschools.org

Viewing this magazine from an online link? Click here to have The District Dispatch delivered straight to your inbox each month.

The District Dispatch Mission: To inform all with an interest in the Royal Oak Schools community and deliver information straight to them through stories of our people, our successes and our future.

ICYMI: Royal Oak Continuing Education Success Story

Tenacity is just a nice word we can use when somebody is being stubborn, right? We sometimes use it to be politically correct and kinder. A lesson about the difference is found in one of our students at Royal Oak Continuing Education. Mark had registered for our program every year as long as anybody could remember (he later told me that he had been trying to finish school for at least 10 years). As of September 2019, Mark needed 5 more credits -- double the number that our average participant usually finishes in a year in our program. Mark had only completed 1 out of the last 15 attempts at classes. We marveled and shook our heads\ at how stubborn he was to keep coming back. With these things in mind, our counselor tried to get Mark to switch to the GED program, and for at least three years we tried convincing him to find a school that could better meet his needs. Every year, he kept coming back to see us. The Oxford Languages dictionary says that stubborn is defined as “having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.” We had great arguments and reasons for why Mark should choose a different path. Apparently, Mark wasn’t necessarily just stubborn. A better adjective for him would be tenacious. He said that he knew the GED was the same level and there should be no stigma with finishing with that tool (ok - we told him that part, but he acknowledged that he knew it). He said that he felt like taking the GED would be admitting failure at those classes he tried before and didn’t finish and he said

“I refuse to be a failure.”

He said he knew he could do it this time. We gave him an accelerated schedule and said to go for it.

In May 2020, Mark finished all the credits he needed and graduated from our program with his High School Diploma. We are exceedingly proud of him because he obviously broke through many barriers to finish his diploma. Mark’s picture now hangs on the filing cabinet with student files so that all staff can remember something: when a student returns many times, and doesn’t listen to our advice, that person isn’t just being stubborn, they could be the definition of tenacity.

By Guest Contributor: Joy Marie Zug


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