Reimagine Learning Update Part 1: Reimagine Learning/Extended Continuity of Learning Plan - 10/14/20

  • Transcript of Reimagine Learning Update Part 1

    BOE Vice President Jessica Kelly:

    So that will take us into the information portion of our agenda, Dr. Swift, we alluded to it a moment ago, and so we would like you to share with us the update on the re-imagined learning and extended continuity of learning plans for fall of 2020. Trustees settle in, I have had a little teaser here that it is a comprehensive update

    Superintendent Jeanice Swift:

    Trustees. I appreciate trustee Kelly and all of our trustees and members of the community. I appreciate the opportunity to once again, update on our progress across the Ann Arbor public schools. We've been sharing these updates week by week since mid March of 2020. We're now into our eighth month of emergency management in the district, and we certainly appreciate all the commentary this evening. We appreciate the burden that our current situation places on so many, many folks, our students, their parents, whom we've heard from this evening and also our teachers and staff and leaders who are working so very hard to deliver teaching and learning. Despite our many challenges, there are a few parts to our presentation this evening to update honor our coven. And we'll begin with just a quick review of the safety net of supports that we've been providing for children, families, staff in community.

    Certainly, our commenters noted this evening and we are mindful of the role that we play in public schools, in our community of supporting and providing a safety net. Secondly we want to highlight just a little bit of coming attractions on preparations of our physical properties for our return to in school activity and learning. We've been accomplishing quite a lot. This work has extended over months and we have a report coming up, trustees on that next week at our study session. Ms. Bacolor is standing by to share a COVID health update. We'll be referencing the metrics that were drawn on Friday on our weekly draw of the data. We'll be referring to those metrics on our dashboard to see where we are in the process with COVID infection in the Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County community. We also have Ms. Parks and Ms. Linden Assistant Superintendent of school leadership and of teaching and learning. And they will be sharing with us an update on student engagement and supports and all the work that we're doing to wrap our students and families in as many supports for learning, social, emotional growth and development and all of the supports that we possibly can. I have a call to action, actually, two of them trustees that I'd like to share, and then we'll get down to our next steps and want to begin.

    Certainly, we've kept in mind even though we may not always agree on the specific details of how we go about our decision making. We do agree on our critical mission and indeed it is our children we've kept that, children at the heart of our work. It was mentioned this evening, the pillars of our equity plan, which we are implementing every day. I've had recent meetings across the district and across the county on our equity work at the last two weeks have met with our equity team. And then just yesterday joining with other members of districts across the county in equity work as well. On Saturday we have the great opportunity to be in a national leaders of districts from across the country engaging in work to improve our equity focus.

    I want to just touch in on some of the safety nets beginning with our food distribution trustees. You're well aware of this work. We're now beyond 600,000 meals distributed. We will continue that work through December 31st is as far as our authorization goes, we are serving approximately 2000, a little more than 2000 students, each distribution with about 9,000 meals at each distribution. This is the largest effort trustees other than Detroit public schools. This is the largest food distribution effort underway in Southeast Michigan. And we're very proud of this work. We're currently doing both lunchtime and evening distributions at 22 locations and we will continue that work. Many of our parents we've heard from lots of folks. We know that the impact of our covert pandemic has caused a loss of jobs and loss of resources for many of our families and we know that this distribution is a lifeline for them, and we will continue to do that work. I want to remind folks, there's no ID required. There's no question. We simply serve those students and families who come through. We do it in almost a touchless way. I had the great opportunity of the past two Mondays to be out on food distribution efforts, to just thank our team on behalf of the board and a grateful Ann Arbor community to get to thank them in person and trustees. That story is being published in our Ann Arbor Public Schools news, and will be included in our superintendent update tomorrow. I hope that folks will take time to note the participation of our Chartwell's team, our Durham team they're doing just tremendous work and all of that under the leadership of Ms. Liz Margolis.

    Our supply distribution has gone really well. That work continues on a smaller scale as we distribute materials for particular art and music classes and other textbook distribution and other endeavors, as they come along throughout the fall.

    As you know, trustees, we've taken a major effort, and I appreciate all the work of our ITD team to distribute over 18,000 devices, hundreds of hotspots in connectivity support. We partnered with Comcast and supporting with the monthly charges on a reduced Comcast learning connectivity package. And I appreciate all the work of our ITD team and the support of Alicia Malone, our homeless liaison in getting our families connected. And you'll see from Ms. Parks a little bit later, the actual percentages of our students who are connected and who are learning with us virtually. We do understand that, yeah, this is a massive highway, uh, the internet. And if there are interruptions, I appreciate the emails from parents making us aware when they've been power outages. And certainly we monitor the grid as well as the traffic. We are working with our families to ensure connectivity, to overcome the technical glitches that have arisen over the first weeks. It might be helpful to see the Schoology by the numbers. You can see here more than 2 million log-ons since September 8th, about 1.8 million of those are from student logins. I think it's very interesting to see that we're averaging about 80,000 log-ins on synchronous learning days. And on those asynchronous Wednesdays, we're averaging about 50,000 logins. Our total content views at 6 million we're very grateful for all the support and all the work on Schoology. We do continue to work. We're hearing from folks particularly with young learners and we will continue to work on those issues that still exist. And I appreciate all the great work of our teachers and team and leaders who've just worked valiantly to put all of these tools into place.

    Our Rec and Ed free preschool through eighth grade programs are thriving. Ms. Bacolor shares more than a thousand preschool through eighth graders have participated in dance and yoga and soccer, and all of it done in an outdoor, socially distant, fully masked setting or being accomplished virtually. We are, enjoying this fall. I've had the opportunity to be out at two schools and see this activity in progress. And it's inspiring.

    We are as one of our commenters noted, continuing our month-long vigorous work plans and preparations for our school buildings to be fully prepared for in school learning. So I just want to point out, the presentation from the 30th of September that Mr. Lauzzana and Mr. Rice presented, we will want folks to see all of the work that's going on in the buildings and that presentation had many, many photographs and visual aids, so that folks can actually see the progress we're making in our buildings. And then I want to point to trustees that our study session coming up next Wednesday, beginning at 6:00 PM is focused on the preparations in our AAPS buildings for a COVID informed return to in school, Mr. Lauzzana and Mr. Rice have done a great deal of research in coordination with other facilities leaders across the country. And we're excited to share that work in progress to prepare our buildings and to ensure that they are as safe and healthy as they can possibly be while we're doing lots of work to prepare for a return.

    There are some updates to our information on infection rates we received yesterday and alert, from Dr. Joni Khaldoon our medical executive for the state of Michigan alongside governor Whitmer, pointing to an increase in hospitalization rates across all of Michigan and concerns. The cases of coronavirus are rising in Michigan hospitalizations have spiked 80% in recent weeks. They have increased in all regions of the state and this direct quote from Dr. Khaldoon, it is very possible that the beginning that this is the beginning of the second way, that is why we're asking everyone to remain vigilant and to do the basic things we know to do, to wear our masks, to avoid social gatherings. This is so important at this time, trustees, as a result of both the level and the trend of cases over the previous two weeks, the significant percentage of the Washtenaw County cases that are localized in Ann Arbor, public schools, zip codes, nd the increase in cases per million in cases per 100,000, we will be recommending continuing in our virtual learning status for the coming week.

    I do want to point out that we regularly benchmark and interact with our similarly situated university towns across the Midwest and the Northeast. In fact, I was engaged with a fellow Michigan superintendent today in a similarly situated university town here in Michigan. We remain, as do, essentially all of these other public school districts located in university towns. We remain a very similar status in a virtual education delivery status as do, our colleagues and peers, across the Midwest and the Northeast. We will continue to interact and monitor our data week by week so that we can be sure to be responsive to our data at the same time as we work with this data, we also are keenly aware of the concerns that our parents have shared this evening and that we hear from our parents every day. We do understand that this pandemic, this health crisis in our country and around the world has placed tremendous burden on families, on children, on teachers and our team and our leaders. We do understand those impacts and we are working vigilantly every day to continue to put supports in place, including supports for our students who are most challenged by virtual environment, including our students with special needs and our youngest learners. So I just want to reiterate that message, that we do hear and understand the concerns. We will continue to prepare for the hybrid stage. That will be our next step in this process. At that time of our hybrid stage, our most impacted learners who typically learn in very small classrooms, they will have additional face to face time in the hybrid setting. We will also continue to work to provide supports during this virtual time.

    We do believe that the best place for our children is in person learning, inside our school buildings, face to face with our amazing talented teachers and leaders in teams in person learning remains our first choice when it is safe for gathering groups indoors, we have our processes and our protocols prepared. We have that plan in place, and it can be referenced on our website. The re-imagine learning plan about 252 pages. Every single staff member has received COVID awareness training. We are preparing for that day when we can have our students and staff return.

    I do want to point to a call to action, that is so important, and that is at this time, we understand that Congress is not yet moving forward with an additional package of aid. That package is key and critical because our resources, we have purchased tremendous amount of additional technology, and we appreciate the support of our community in order to be able to do so. Nevertheless, those are expenditures we're expending resources to prepare our buildings. Our initial order of PPE trustees as you're well aware was over $600,000. And we anticipate that that will last about eight years weeks in a reduced operations environment, we continue to expend on technology and connectivity, food distribution, literacy efforts, and on the list goes our call to action. And I've been personally in contact with our legislators. As I know trustees, you have as well. We need infrastructure and support, and particularly ensuring that we could implement a program of timely testing and testing results, the cases that we have dealt with in our district, and you'll see that report coming up from Ms. Bacolor. Our average turnaround on testing extends much longer than what is needed for a confident reopening of school. All of the countries that were referenced in our comments this evening have reopened with viable testing and tracing programs in place. So we are looking for that kind of support. And we continue to advocate loudly that our partners, that’s both at the federal level step up and support our public schools in being able to meet the need of a COVID informed in person face to face learning for public schools.

    We gave a second call to action, and I was privileged to do this in partnership with Washtenaw schools and with our Washtenaw County Health Department, as well as the about 50 some other administrators in the County. This call to action was really about asking our community to support the healthy practices in our community. And according to our health leaders, Dr. Khaldoon and our Washtenaw County health leaders, it seems our most vulnerable area right now is in social and family gathering things outside of the home environment. So we're just, again, calling on folks in our community to support this effort. We can get control of this virus, and yet we're not quite there yet. This is our process for our next steps. And then we'll move into our subsequent portions of our briefing. We do review those health metrics daily. We brief those metrics to the board of education at least once weekly, this can be in an email briefing. I do want to point out to folks in the community who may not understand that quite a lot of the board's work is in small meetings, whether those are committee meetings or individual meetings. So these weekly briefings can occur in a variety of ways, but once a week. in addition, once a week, we post an update, the AAPS data dashboard to the A2 website each week. We, when those metrics approach, we have an aim for and a consider range when we are approaching the consider range. We know we will begin. We will begin the process of transitioning into our stage one, which is our Kinder, first, and second alongside our students, preschool through 12th with specialized learning needs. But that will be our first stage of our transition when we approach the proper threshold for insuring the best health and safety that we can, considering that COVID remains active in our community.

    I want to touch on an update, a summary of this update trustees. It's clear to us from all that we're seeing just now that this COVID crisis is far from over. I do understand that the calendar is turning over. We're here meeting since mid-March and everyone is weary with the burden and with the many burdens that this call, that pandemic brings, that it brings for children that it brings for households, that it brings for our teachers and our teams and our school leaders. I want everyone to understand that we work long hours every day across our team. We do not take lightly the losses and the diminishment that this COVID pandemic has wrought across our community. And yet we will continue to work vigorously to support our students, our staff, and our families. We will work on all the steps necessary to bring students and staff back into our schools safely. And yet we want to recognize that bringing our students and staff safely to return in the, in school learning environment and to do so in a sustainable fashion is the toughest challenge that we and school districts across the country currently face.

    So there are no simple decisions. There are no easy solutions. There is a great deal of clarity, and that is around meeting the needs of children in every way that we safely can. So I do want to point out that our 252 page plan is posted on the website and is available for any who would like to peruse that. That has been approved by the board of trustees. Another of our next steps is that at the end of October, we will be bringing forward, just the reconfirmation, which is very much what we've done all along every meeting, since mid-March.