Joint AAEA and AAPS Message to Teachers

  • Friday, March 13th

    Dear AAPS Teachers,

    As you read in Dr. Swift’s school closure communication, and likely heard through Governor Whitmer’s announcement, we are proceeding with school closure as a prevention and mitigation approach to dealing with the COVID-19 virus. This is new territory for us and while we work to navigate our path forward. We are part of an amazing and strong community of educators and leaders and we thank you for your ongoing commitment to our students and families.

    We are proud to share that the AAEA and AAPS administration have partnered to define our expectations for continuing learning digitally during the time school is suspended. We believe this is an important and needed step to fulfill our critical mission of serving students. We are also committed to ensuring that our hard working and incredible teachers are supported in every way possible as we consider the many ways this can be accomplished.

    Our concern also lies with our vulnerable students and their families. We are working with school, district, and citywide teams to plan for food distribution locations and family supports throughout the closure. We also want to assure you that we are working to ensure equitable access to devices and Internet so that learning can continue for each of our students. We are currently assessing the level of student at home access to technology devices and Internet and our team is busy developing a system to distribute devices to students who require them. Our work includes working with Internet providers toward the provision of wireless access to hot spots across the city. More details about these plans will be shared over the next few days.

    Because we’re headed into new territory together, our mantra will be “keep it simple.” Between now and Monday afternoon, we are asking you to do two things:

    Begin to consider what you might provide as a daily learning opportunity for your students such as review activities, articles and reflections, skills practice or other ways to keep students connected. There is no expectation that teachers attempt to recreate complex online lessons. Remember to keep it simple and don’t overwhelm yourself or your students.

    Review the attached Remote Learning Roadmap. This will help you consider your individual experience with digital learning tools and where you might want to access support next week during professional development opportunities. This is a personal planning tool for you.

    On the afternoon of Monday, March 16th, you can expect a follow-up message with details about the many supports available to you and our shared expectations in the digital realm. You will have multiple, voluntary options to engage in professional learning and planning in the use of our most commonly used platforms and tools. In addition, a designated help desk staff will be at your disposal to support you throughout the closure. Together we will consider ways we can all stay connected, at building and district level over the course of this ‘teach from home’ journey. This week of planning, development and connection is so important for us all.

    The district plans to post grade level and content area specific resources and activities for students and families to access the week of March 16th. This will give our teachers the space to plan and become familiar with tools and platforms. We recognize that some teachers are ready and wish to begin providing daily learning opportunities as soon as possible. This is okay to do.

    Special education, special area and preschool/early on will work collaboratively to determine their next steps.

    By Monday, March 23rd, the expectation is for teachers to begin providing students with a daily, positive message and a learning opportunity.

    We want you to remember some important things.

    • We are about to try something new and that means there will be bumps in the road and, in the beginning at least, lots of questions.
    • We are part of committed and caring teams at many levels and all are here to support you, laugh with you and maybe even cry...although we hope not:)
    • We are going to miss being together with our colleagues and our students. We will need to find new ways to stay connected so reach out to your colleagues and we’ll help you find new ways to do that! Remember that the LifeBalance Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is always available to you at 1-877-259-3785 or (User ID: annarbor; password: schools)

    While this situation certainly presents its challenges, there are also some exciting opportunities for us to grow together and engage differently. Let’s take a collective breath together and know that we are all trying something new in our commitment to continue to serve our students.

    We will be back in touch on Monday with details and updated information. Thank you for everything you do, each day for our students. Please take care of yourselves.

    Fred Klein
    Dawn Linden
    The AAEA and AAPS Bargaining Teams