November 13, 2020 - Response to A2R2 Press Release


Response to #A2R2 Ann Arbor Reasonable Return November 12, 2020 Press Release

Superintendent Jeanice K. Swift
Friday, November 13, 2020

I appreciate the work of the Ann Arbor Reasonable Return group to promote an informed and reasonable return of our AAPS students to in-school learning; ensuring that our AAPS students have a reasonable return to school is a fundamental and critical priority and goal we share. 

I want to respond to the press release dated November 12, 2020 wherein it is stated that emails reveal that "AAPS draft metrics for 'Return to School' were 'unachievable.' 

There are several areas of the message that warrant further clarification. 

WCHD & AAPS Metrics 

First, the reference to the WCHD deeming AAPS metrics to be unachievable is an incomplete assessment of the situation. I have copied the full email exchange from September 24, 2020 below, and you can clearly see that we made adjustments to the AAPS metrics in keeping with recommendation of the WCHD, moving the upper end of the cases per million metric from the original 20 cases to 40 cases per million. Also, we further explained the trend metric in the notes of the dashboard. You can see the response at 4:59pm, "Thank you, and we have already made adjustments that address his (Dr. Juan Marques) areas of concern. It's very helpful to have confirmation on our approach from the WCHD."

The AAPS Metrics were discussed openly throughout the September 11th Public Planning Committee of the Board (AAPS metrics was the one agenda item), during the September 16th Regular Meeting of the Board as well as during the September 30th Regular Meeting of the Board and amended AAPS Dashboard Metrics were approved at the September 30th meeting. 

During all three of these public meetings, extensive public commentary, input and feedback from members of the community was heard, noted and valued. In addition, we received numerous emails to the Board and Superintendent sharing input on the metrics, and during this time, two key metrics were amended, the cases per 100,000 and the cases per million. The upper range of the cases per 100,000 was moved from 5 to 9 and the upper range of cases per million was moved from 20 to 40.  

All of the meeting videos and presentations are publicly available currently at https://www.a2schools.org/Page/16217 and available for reviewing the full discussion of the multi-week process of clarifying and establishing AAPS COVID metrics. 

Our work and partnership with the Washtenaw County Health Department involves frequent interactions, regular meetings, and ongoing discussion at several levels of the team. To conclude that an email exchange represents the breadth of our engagement with our valued WCHD partners is an inaccurate representation. Members of our AAPS team, including in the areas of nursing and school health team, members of the Superintendent's leadership team as well as the Superintendent, engage in regular and ongoing collaboration and discussion. 

In addition, the WCHD team engages in regular meetings of the Washtenaw Superintendents and in Ann Arbor community leader meetings with members of the UofM, City, and Governor's team. Discussions and regular engagement across all these groups involve all aspects of the COVID public health crisis including analyzing levels of community spread and setting metrics to ensure health and safety. 

We highly value the expertise, guidance and support of the WCHD team and have worked closely with them during every day of this COVID time. 

AAPS as an 'Outlier' in District Virtual Status 

The assertion that the AAPS is an outlier in its virtual schooling status is also not a fully accurate statement. Below, you can see the current schooling status of 13 more similarly sized Michigan districts, including the largest Districts in the state (AAPS is the 4th largest) and as you can clearly see, the most common format for learning at this time is virtual. 

From among Washtenaw County districts, Ypsilanti, Lincoln, and Manchester are currently on virtual status, Dexter, Chelsea have some students attending in-school in a hybrid model (2 days per week) as do Milan and Saline. Whitmore Lake is the only district (approximately 750 students) where most students are attending full-time in-school learning. 

Currently, many K12 students in southeast Michigan are learning, as Ann Arbor is, in a virtual school format. 

Work with Employee Groups

Certainly, our ongoing work to prepare for in-school learning has at its foundation collaboration with AAPS team members and employee groups, and we have engaged in regular, collaborative and productive work meetings since last March to prepare for a return to school.  

These meetings involve working to set our protocols for health and safety, clarifying processes and procedures for what the school day will look like, how teaching and learning will best occur and the general operation of the school within a Covid-informed approach. 

Working across groups and collaborating with members of our team are key and critical processes central to a responsible and safe return to school and serving our students; I am proud of members across our AAPS team who have been heavily engaged in this consistent work to prepare for a return to school. 

Process for Return to In-School Learning

The AAPS process for determining a return to in-school learning has been discussed and reiterated at many public meetings, and there is no predetermined plan for keeping students out of school 'until everyone is vaccinated.' In fact, we have clearly stated the opposite. The steps, which are detailed in a slide below, are consistently followed with a data review and posting each week, and a notification to the community when the infection metrics are improved, and we can make final preparations for a timely return to school.  

As you suggest, the AAPS Return to School Plan details the phases of return, beginning first with small groups of students with specialized learning needs, those students who are vulnerable and most impacted by virtual instruction, and details beginning with the youngest students, PK - 2nd first. 

In addition, during the hybrid phase of the return, many students with the greatest need will receive more in-person learning. As well, recovery services were offered for students during Summer Learning, 2020 as they will be during Summer Learning, 2021. Summer Learning 2020 enrollment topped 5,000 students, and we are planning for a large program during this next summer as well. I do not know of another district that has coordinated a plan such as this one to ensure additional learning and support time for students. 

As we have discussed, our AAPS plan for providing additional opportunities for student learning will continue for the foreseeable future; we will be working in the long term on this endeavor. 

Certainly, we are all in agreement in planning for a safe, phased return to in-person schooling. 

I appreciate your engagement in this process and look forward to working together to ensure our AAPS students and staff are returned to in-school learning just as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Sincerely, 

Swift signature

Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent


District Data (as of 11-13-20)

District Students Status
Birmingham 8,045 Virtual learning
South Lyon Public Schools 8,690 Virtual learning as of 11/16/2020
Farmington Public Schools 10,079 Elementary to remain virtual learning thru 1/11/2021.  MS & HS virtual learning thru 1/25/2021
Lansing Public School District 10,773 Virtual learning
Wayne-Westland Community School District 10,863 Virtual thru 1/19/2021
Troy School District 13,130 Virtual learning
Warren Consolidated Schools 13,767 Virtual until 1/25/2021
Rochester Community School District 15,434 Returned to temporary virtual learning on 11/5/2020
Grand Rapids Public Schools 15,803 Virtual learning through 1/04/2021
Plymouth-Canton Community Schools 17,478 In-person learning for elementary, virtual learning for MS & HS thru end of 1st semester
Ann Arbor Public Schools 18,355 Virtual learning
Dearborn City School District

20,717

Virtual learning into November, MS & HS virtual until 2nd Semester in 1/2021
Utica Community Schools 26,878 In-person learning for elementary to go virtual on 11/12/2020.  All other in-person grades returned to virtual on 11/9/2020
Detroit Public Community Schools 49,931 Virtual as of 11/16/2020

 

Return to In-School Learning Determination Process

Daily Review & Monitoring & Weekly Posting of Metrics Status: 

  • AAPS team reviews public health metrics daily
  • AAPS team will review metrics with the Board of Education in a briefing at least once weekly
  • Posting/update of AAPS data dashboard to org website each week
  • Once overall metrics are achieved to be considered safe to begin transition to in-school learning, AAPS team will brief the Board, AAPS team, & share information with parents and community
  • AAPS team will monitor during the intervening 14 days to ensure metrics hold
  • AAPS will continue work to ensure readiness for the transition to in-person learning

 

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: Bacolor, Jenna <bacolor@aaps.k12.mi.us>
Date: Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 4:59 PM
Subject: Re: Meeting time?
To: Ruth Kraut <krautr@washtenaw.org>

Hi Ruth, 

Tell Juan thank you, and we have already made adjustments that address his areas of concern. It's very helpful to have confirmation on our approach from the WCHD. Will you answer my question about the MDHHS guidance, please? 

Thank you,
Jenna

-----

On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 3:52 PM Ruth Kraut <krautr@washtenaw.org> wrote:

Since you’re presenting them shortly—

I think there were two areas of concern:

Less than 20 COVID-19 cases per 1 million residents or 1-4 cases per 100,000 residents—Juan feels this is almost impossible to achieve (and right now with such a high % of the cases being the 18-22 yo set, may not be the best metric)

Downward trend—that works until you get to a certain low level—(in the same way that it is easy to see improvement if you have a kid who gets Cs, and their grades start going up—but once their average is an A-, they might go up and down between As and Bs). Right now our trend is up, but again it isn’t older and younger, it’s 18-22.

I’ll put a hold on Thursday afternoon, do you prefer 2:30 or 3:30? (or 3!)

Ruth Kraut
Deputy Health Officer
she/her/hers
Washtenaw County Health Department

Washtenaw Health Plan
C: 734-649-2401 · P: 734-544-3068 · F: 734-544-6705

-----

From: Bacolor, Jenna <bacolor@aaps.k12.mi.us>
Sent: Thursday, September 24, 2020 3:30 PM
To: Ruth Kraut <krautr@washtenaw.org>
Subject: Re: Meeting time?

CAUTION: This email originated from outside of the organization. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.

Hi Ruth,

Next Thursday afternoon would work for me at least -- I'll put a hold in my calendar. We're still refining the metrics with the BOE and others -- I'm presenting them to the AAEA in a few minutes. Hey - are you guys going to talk about the MDHHS guidance that was sent to local health departments? I was intrigued by the decision matrix on the second page and wonder what you all thought about that. I also thought it was weird that the document doesn't have any names or a letterhead. 

Let me check into the CHS parking lot!

Best,
Jenna

-----

On Thu, Sep 24, 2020 at 3:17 PM Ruth Kraut <krautr@washtenaw.org> wrote:

Hi Jenna,

Can we set up a meeting time to go over the data you are using?
Do you want to suggest some times?
Looking at times that might work for me, Jimena and Juan, how about:
Tuesday the 29th at 11 am?
Wednesday the 30th at noon?
Thursday the 1st at 11 or between 2:30 and 4:30?

Also wondering—we might want to do a pop-up clinic in downtown Ann Arbor in early November. The CHS parking lot was suggested to us—obviously not on a Wednesday or Saturday. What do you think, is that workable?

Ruth

Ruth Kraut
Deputy Health Officer
she/her/hers
Washtenaw County Health Department

Washtenaw Health PlanC: 734-649-2401 · P: 734-544-3068 · F: 734-544-6705
555 Towner Street, Ypsilanti, MI 48198         

Find the Health Department at washtenaw.org/health and the Washtenaw Health Plan at washtenaw.org/whp and healthcarecounts.org.

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--

Jenna Bacolor, MPH, LMSW
Executive Director 
Community Division 
Ann Arbor Public Schools
bacolor@a2schools.org
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