The closure of school buildings last spring was an abrupt change for all of us. In preparation for this fall, we have obtained feedback from parents via surveys which assisted staff members to create a more robust and supportive learning environment for the 2020-21 school year. We have prioritized adherence to strict health and safety protocols issued by Governor Whitmer and in some cases have gone beyond the basic requirements. Under the guidance of many professional organizations and from health professionals, our administrative team assembled five key committees to address the plans for learning. Those groups included: Instruction, Operations, Facilities, Health/Wellness and Extracurricular activities. Over 180 staff members from across the district have been collaborating with district leaders to prepare the recommendations.
In a Board of Education Workshop held on July 29, 2020, the team presented their work and recommendations on a wide variety of topics including school schedules, types of learning (online/virtual or in-person), cleaning protocols, health related issues such as screening and notifications, food service, special education, technology needs and student social and emotional health and well-being. The full presentation can be accessed here.
The recommendations made and those supported by the Board offer varying degrees of face to face and online learning. These plans exist so long as the district and our region remain in at least Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan. Phases 1-3 would require complete closure of school buildings where no in-person instruction can take place.
Elementary: Alternating days where students are brought to school 2 days a week, with half of the school attending at a time. This maximizes the ability to social distance in the classrooms with reduced student numbers at any one time. The other three days will be online learning from home. While in school, students will remain in place in their homeroom classes as special area teachers and lunch will be provided to them in their classroom. Contact with other students within the halls and other areas of the school will be limited. Activities and lessons will be held outdoors, weather permitting.
Middle School: Similar to elementary school, students will attend on alternating days where students are brought to school 2 days a week, with half of the school attending at a time. This maximizes the ability to social distance in the classrooms with reduced student numbers at any one time. The other three days will be online learning from home. Fask coverings will be required for all staff and students at all times. Lunch will be organized to maximize social distancing.
High School: The primary delivery of instruction will be online for all students, all classes. Students will have an opportunity to utilize office hours to meet in person with teachers. There will be scheduled synchronous (live) instruction opportunities in AM (8 - 1:15). One day a week (Mondays) are being recommended for teachers to launch all six classes for the week.
A "Virtual Academy" option is designed for students and families who are unable to attend school in the manner we have recommended above. Families will have a chance next week to formally enroll in this online option which will be facilitated by Royal Oak teachers aligned with the district curriculum. At this time, it is recommended that families make a semester commitment when enrolling in the online school so that the learning can be continuous regardless of how the face to face options may fluctuate this year. This option continues to be developed. We want everyone to have as much detail as possible so that parents can make an informed decision for their child(ren) to either join the hybrid schedules or remain fully online.
Other key points:
- The district will use a new Learning Management System as an interface to online learning called Canvas. Staff will begin to be trained on the product and guides for parents and students will also be provided.
- Enhanced cleaning protocols will be in place for all spaces used by staff and students using specific materials and equipment for cleaning including classrooms, lockers, bathrooms and other common areas. Notifications regarding potential or confirmed exposure or cases are being finalized. Oakland County will be provided two nurses for Royal Oak Schools. That program and assignment is being finalized in early August.
- Services via special education will be provided to all students per their IEP. Special consideration will be made for teaching and learning opportunities for specific special education programs that require different approaches.
- Extracurricular activities and athletics are under review including Young Oaks latchkey programs, clubs, athletic teams, childcare and preschool. Each group will follow guidelines as presented by their organizations such as Michigan’s LARA (Licensing and Regulatory Affairs department) and the MHSAA (Michigan High School Athletic Association). Updates will be provided directly from Don Watchowski, ROHS Athletic Director and Angela Ashburn, Supervisor of Early Childhood Programs.
The Board of Education will consider the Return to School plans again at a special meeting on Thursday, August 6, at 6:00 PM in a virtual meeting setting. For more information including the presentations, and a link to ask questions can be found on our district website. An FAQ document will be added shortly.
This is a fluid and ever changing situation. Plans are subject to change.