May 29, 2020
Hello AAPS Students and Staff, Parents and Community,
I hope that you and your family are well. We are excited to welcome all to the 2020-21 school year and will begin classes for students on Monday, August 31, 2020, for the next school year.
What We Have Achieved Together
During these 12 weeks of spring building closure, our AAPS team, families and community have worked together in extraordinary ways to deepen our connections, outreach, and support of our students and each other, and to continue teaching and learning, albeit in very different ways. We have developed and reinforced supports for students and families, including:
- distribution of food and basic necessities - approximately 300,000 meals so far,
- checkout of devices - 3,100+ devices - and provision of technology support +10,000 calls to our help lines,
- working with students and families to share specialized support services and social-emotional/mental health supports,
- growing our professional skills and enhancing learning platforms to improve remote work and learning, and
- offering a full menu of Summer Learning 2020 opportunities available for all students.
We have worked together - as an AAPS village - to do everything we can to support the distance learning experience for students, staff and parents, seeking to improve every week during this COVID building closure time. I recently had a virtual school visit at two schools, and you may want to learn more about the work of our teachers and school teams here. Thank you to our students and staff, parents and community for this amazing effort to support our students during these challenging weeks.
Planning for 2020-21 Timeline
We are sharing information today about the next steps of our process in planning for the next school year. This communication contains preliminary information about the AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework for the 2020-21 school year.
Since the mandated COVID-related closure of school buildings on March 13, 2020, we have been working, guided by medical and science experts, to understand how to best prepare to safely reconvene in-person learning as we continue to experience the uncertainties and challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We welcome input and feedback from students and staff, parents and community as we further develop this plan during June; your engagement will inform our work to refine a more detailed and comprehensive learning plan. You will receive a survey link that will follow by a separate email invitation from K12 Insight early next week and will also receive information sharing a schedule for upcoming AAPS Town Hall meetings on this framework during June.
We will continue to remain in communication throughout this summer, sharing information as more detailed planning and the COVID situation evolve.
A refined AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-21 is anticipated to be shared with our AAPS community during July – the precise date will be dependent on expert medical advice - so that families may adequately plan and prepare for the 2020-21 school year.
AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21
The top priority in the AAPS remains, as always, the health and safety of our students and staff, parents and community. The single priority of health and safety informs the thinking, planning and decision-making process in the development of a 2020-21 plan. We are all anxious to have students and staff safely return to in-person instruction at school, and we will continue to closely monitor COVID infection rates, to be informed by science and led by data, under the guidance of medical and public health experts. We will continue this work in coordination with the Office of the Governor, Washtenaw County Health Department and the Michigan Department of Education as we make decisions about school next year.
Reimagine Framework Aligned to Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan
The AAPS reimagine planning for the 2020-21 school year, as Governor Whitmer has shared, represents a ‘dial’ rather than an ‘on’ and ‘off’ switch. The entire AAPS system – individual students and families, teachers, staff and leaders - classrooms, schools and the district - must be agile and nimble, prepared to transition across the phases of the learning framework as may be needed during the 2020-21 school year. For ease of understanding and communication, the phases of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21 have been aligned to the phases of the Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan.
Important Information: Every AAPS student and instructional staff member will be provided a device, as requested, for use during the next school year. The AAPS will feature synchronous, real-time learning where teachers and students engage together in direct instruction in quality, AAPS standards-based content, curricula and programs. Importantly, a fully-virtual AAPS learning experience will be available for all PK12 students throughout the 2020-21 school year.
Information in this preliminary framework may be adjusted as this situation continues to evolve; we are still three months out from our school start date. Our commitment is that we will update all AAPS stakeholders consistently throughout this summer process. We know that as the situation and guidance may change regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we will need to be prepared to work with agility across all the phases of the learning framework.
Our goal throughout this process has been to safely meet our students and families where they are, and to ensure the very best educational experience for students while also fulfilling our priority of keeping our students and staff, parents and community safe and healthy.
While so much remains fluid during this time, our one shared mission remains ever the same: Every Child. Every Day. Our priority, partnership and work together to support the growth, health and wellbeing of our students is not only what keeps us connected, it is what makes us a community.
Thank you for your careful review of this information and your thoughtful feedback on the upcoming AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21 survey and/or at a virtual Town Hall Meeting during June.
Jeanice Kerr Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools
AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework
What We Know
This draft of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21 coalesces in four key and critical priorities: safety and health, teaching and learning, whole-child programming and operations and support.
1. Safety & Health
The safety and health of students and staff, parents and families will remain the top priority; medical science experts and data will inform all decisions in guiding the approaches to teaching and learning in the AAPS.
Enhanced Health Support
The AAPS health team will continue to coordinate with the Washtenaw County Health Department and will work in partnership with epidemiologists and medical experts.
As a part of the AAPS enhanced health support:
- be prepared to implement the most up-to-date health protocols when school re-opens, including daily screening (verbal and temperature checks), social distancing and appropriate PPE for all in the school setting
- expect all in the school environment will follow appropriate and published protocols for health, including daily screening, wearing of face masks or PPE and social distancing
- offer an enhanced health team: AAPS nurse team in coordination with health specialists supporting every school
- monitor illness and implement confidential contact tracing efforts to enable more rapid health updates and direct communication with AAPS families
- enhanced ventilation and cleaning strategies for classrooms and school spaces, and
- training and health education will be provided for students, staff and parents.
2. Teaching and Learning
Synchronous, Real-Time Learning
As learning occurs in a modified face-to-face, blended (partial face-to-face & partial virtual), or in an entirely virtual setting, the AAPS will feature synchronous, real-time learning. Teachers and students will be engaged together in direct instruction in quality, AAPS standards-based content, curricula and programs.
Importantly, a fully virtual AAPS learning experience will be available, at parent request, for ALL students throughout the 2020-21 school year.
Virtual classroom learning opportunities are offered via A2 Virtual+ (an entire class group is fully virtual) or as part of a class connected to a live classroom in the student’s school.
Students who are served with additional specialized supports, such as those services described in an IEP, a 504, second language or other needed supports, will continue to receive specialized supports, to every extent possible, across all phases of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-21: modified face-to-face/blended and a fully virtual learning environment.
Pacing with Screen Time
When in a fully-virtual learning setting, if this phase should occur during the 2020-21 school year, it is not advisable for students to be on screens full-time for the 7 hours of each school day; as such, synchronous learning will be paced, alongside other non-screen learning activities – such as independent reading, physical activity, lunch, breaks, maker activities or working on assignments and projects - to be completed during off-screen periods during the day.
Classes Also Available On-Demand
Classes – featuring synchronous learning - will be recorded so that, if needed, students and families may access the class/lesson on-demand at another time during the day.
1:1 Technology Implementation
Every AAPS student and instructional staff member will be provided a device, as requested, for the school year: for students, iPads in grades P-2, and Chromebooks in grades 3-12. As much as possible, the district will support connectivity to ensure that all students and staff are prepared for learning engagement across the potential phases of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-21.
3. Whole-Child AAPS Educational Experience
Social-Emotional and Mental Health Supports
Fluid and accessible social-emotional learning (SEL) and behavioral health supports and resources will be available for students, staff and families throughout the school year. These services will be offered across the various learning phases/environments; the AAPS will continue partnership with community agencies to support student and adult mental health.
Full AAPS Program
AAPS will continue a long tradition of excellence in offering whole-child, world-class instruction, including classes and programming in the visual and performing arts, Project Lead the Way and STEAM, environmental education, physical education and Career and Technical Education. The AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21, as much as is possible, offers all the benefits of the full AAPS educational experience.
AAPS school clubs and activities will be offered, as is possible, in a virtual or blended environment, as is allowable to comply with public health guidelines.
4. Operations and Support Services
Food & Nutrition Services
Food distribution, breakfasts and lunches, will continue across all phases of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-21. The AAPS will continue a partnership with Food Gatherers to support all our families who benefit from this support.
Transportation services will be adjusted to ensure safe and healthy practices on school busses. Parents will be requested to confirm a reservation for a bus assignment, and service routes may need to be amended during the school year to ensure that bus rides remain safe for all students and adults. All contracted cab and van service will be required to follow AAPS and CDC safety practices.
The district will implement CDC cleaning and disinfecting recommendations, enhanced ventilation strategies and social distancing protocols to ensure that classrooms and school spaces remain as safe and healthy as possible.
More detailed information will be forthcoming in all of the areas of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21 during July 2020. We will continue to update students and staff, parents and community during this summer to ensure all have the most updated information as the situation continues to evolve.
AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework
Phases of Teaching & Learning
The critical mission of the Ann Arbor Public Schools -- quality teaching and learning for every child -- will continue throughout the 2020-21 school year. The learning environment or setting where teaching and learning occur, however, may need to be flexible, dependent upon impact from COVID-19 within the Ann Arbor Public Schools and community. This flexibility is described in the AAPS Reimagine Learning Framework 2020-21 in alignment with the phases of the Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan.
Michigan Safe Start Plan, Phases 1-4
Stay-At-Home – Growth, Spread and Flattening - Virtual Learning
In Phases 1, 2, 3, and 4 of the Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan, all instruction occurs in a virtual learning format in the AAPS as allowed by the State of Michigan.
Phase 1-4 Learning Model: Virtual instruction will occur in a synchronous, distance learning environment featuring AAPS teachers engaged directly with students via the learning platform, delivering quality AAPS curricula and programs. All students attend school via virtual learning on every school day.
Michigan Safe Start Plan, Phase 5
Safer at Home - Containing - Blended Learning
In Phase 5 of the Governor’s Michigan Safe Start Plan, instruction occurs in a blended learning format in the AAPS.
Phase 5 Learning Model: Blended instruction occurs as students share learning time across a partial in-person and partial virtual learning environment featuring AAPS teachers engaged with students in synchronous instruction, delivering quality AAPS curricula and programs.
A variety of settings or levels may occur in the blended instruction model, dependent on public health guidance. For example, approximately 25% - 50% of students may attend in-person learning approximately one to two days per week while students participate in class virtually on other days of the week. Whether students are attending at 25% or 50%, or at some other level, is dependent on whether small or medium-size gatherings are permitted to fulfill public health guidance.
As a result, at a 25% setting, up to nine students may be present for in-person learning in a classroom in Phase 5 Blended Learning, and at a 50% setting, up to 16 students may be present for in-person learning in Phase 5 Blended Learning. In the AAPS Blended Learning classroom, some students are participating in-person and some are participating virtually on each day of class; all students are learning and participating, either in-person or virtually.
Note: During Phase 5 Blended Learning of the AAPS Reimagine Learning Plan 2020-21, additional in-person support for those students with the greatest need, students for whom virtual learning presents the greatest barrier, will be implemented on one additional day per week.
Michigan Safe Start Plan, Phase 6
Post-Pandemic - In-Person Instruction
In Phase 6, the AAPS reconvenes full in-person operations with students attending a face-to-face, at-school learning environment each day.
Phase 6 Learning Model: Full in-person operations are reconvened with a full virtual learning environment also available for all students throughout the 2020-21 school year.