April 2, 2020 - AAPS Staff Extended Closure Announcement

Hello AAPS Team,

I hope you are well, and I am grateful for each of you and the important role you serve in our Ann Arbor Public Schools as we work together through this challenging time.

Today, the Governor has issued an Executive Order directing an extended closure of Michigan schools through the end of this school year. We understand that we all will have many questions, and we are committed to working together to answer our many questions as we move forward together.

These are unparalleled days. Certainly, during the more than one hundred year history of the Ann Arbor Public Schools, our community has faced perilous times - the Great Depression,  the days following Pearl Harbor in 1941 and more recently after the attacks on September 11, 2001. Now, we face a unique moment in history with the COVID-19 crisis we are living through.

I know that we will rise together to meet the challenges of this situation, we will take care of ourselves and our own families, we will help each other, and together we will serve our students, families, and community well. This is not just what we do; it is who we are as Team AAPS. 

Since our initial AAPS announcement of school closure on March 12th, we have been working and preparing for the possibility of a more extended closure of schools. We share this message today to provide additional information following Governor Whitmer’s announcement. 

Health & Safety First

We are currently experiencing an unprecedented public health crisis in southeast Michigan, across the country, and around the globe.  At this time, even before our critical mission of teaching and learning, we must all attend to issues of health and safety first.

Mental health remains a priority, particularly during this stressful time. We know that we are here to support each other, and yet the COVID-19 crisis can affect us in ways we may not have anticipated. Remember that even though we are physically apart just now, you are not alone. There are resources available to assist if you or someone close to you is experiencing depression, grief, loss, a sense of isolation, or any other mental health challenges. If you need support, please reach out to any of us on this AAPS team or contact Employee Assistance. There are additional community resources available here.

I want to assure all of our staff, both full- and part-time, that you will continue to be paid for this time during the extended school closure through the end of the school year. 

Thank You AAPS Team

So many AAPS team members are extending themselves to support others in hundreds of ways. We all understand that the most important way we support each other during this COVID-19 crisis is by following Governor Whitmer’s order to Stay Home and Stay Safe, by practicing the strict social distancing that will make a powerful difference in our community. Your act of remaining at home supports those who must be out on essential, critical work in our community.

I want to thank each of you who have stepped up to make this time easier for others through your generous actions. The examples are far too numerous to list, yet here we share a few highlights.

Many thanks to team members who are serving to carry out critical services in the district. Thanks to Liz Margolis, Victoria Davis, and the Chartwells nutrition and Durham transportation teams, principals, teachers, nurses, and other volunteers for their essential work to distribute food - approximately 60,000 meals so far have been distributed to students. 

Thanks to members of our ITD team and staff volunteers who have worked to check out approximately 2,000 devices to support students, and their work to support all of us as we make this transition to an online learning format.

Thanks to the ABM custodial team who are sanitizing every room in every school according to CDC protocol, and to members of our Finance team who have worked to ensure paychecks continue and bills get paid.

Thanks to our team of PLTW teachers who have been working diligently to create personal protective equipment for use in local hospitals. Many thanks to our nurses who have worked at every step throughout this process to support the health of all of us. 

Thank you to all of you who have reached out in so many ways to support our students, staff, and families during this time. These are hard days, and they are days powered by inspiration. Your connection, outreach, and support matter so very much for those you serve; thank you for living the values of the AAPS through the caring actions you take each day.

Our Work Together Moving Forward

As you know, we will transition to a more significant distance learning model with our students in the days following spring break. As educators, we all understand the importance of approaching our work with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs in front of mind, attending first to physical and emotional needs, then to learning activities. Thank you for working so diligently to meet this next challenge as we continue to serve our AAPS students well.

The coming ten weeks through the end of this school year is a critical time, and everyone in our AAPS organization has an important role to play. Though the details of our work may look very different now, our critical mission remains ever the same: Every Child. Every Day. We understand that our students need us now, more than ever, and I know we will connect and continue to serve our students and families well in innovative, impressive ways.

What you accomplish in our classrooms and schools each day in the AAPS cannot be replicated virtually. Yet, I know that your care, concern, relationships, and competence as educators will extend virtually to reach our students where they are. As you do every day, you will inspire our students — and they will inspire us — we will make the most of this opportunity as learners together during this historic time.

We each have been called on by history to make a powerful difference during this unique moment. This COVID-19 crisis is a test of who we are and what we are made of when it truly matters most for our students, families, and this Ann Arbor community we serve.

Together, I know we will rise to this moment; we will overcome this challenge. We will be stronger as individuals, as teams, and as an AAPS organization on the other side of this situation.

Please continue to let us know how we can support you as you serve our students and families. We are all in this together.

Stay healthy, and I so appreciate each of you,

Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent of Schools