October 1, 2021 - Superintendent's Update
Hello AAPS Students and Staff, Parents and Community,
As we wrap up September, and these first five weeks of school, we are grateful for our students and teachers, support staff and leaders, parents, families and community, for all your extraordinary work to successfully sustain our fully open schools this fall.
To get a quick glimpse into one of our schools, check out 2 minutes at: Lawton Elementary, one in our series sharing insights into the tremendous work going on in our schools this fall.
We know the steps we each take make all the difference to keep our students, staff and schools as healthy and safe as possible. However, current challenges continue during this fall of 2021, and it is important to acknowledge this reality today.
Summary Highlights of Superintendent Update (2 min read)
For those with limited time, this brief section contains the salient points from the lengthier full-text Superintendent update that follows and can stand alone as the weekly update.
- We are delighted to have our students and staff back learning together in schools, yet significant challenges with COVID health and safety, operations and labor shortages continue.
- Operations Challenges: Despite our best efforts, some operational processes, such as transportation, are not operating at the high-performance level we expect, plan and work for in the AAPS. I apologize for this situation, and we will continue to work hard to implement corrections.
- AAPS Recruitment Efforts: We have facilitated a successful Fall AAPS Job Fair; we will seize this COVID labor shortage situation as an opportunity to welcome diverse, promising new talent to our high-performing AAPS team. Please consider and share our AAPS job openings across your network. You may apply for transportation opportunities here.
- Good News: Recent positive news is encouraging regarding vaccination availability for children aged 5-11 years, potentially available later this fall, as well as the reassuring news that teachers and members of our AAPS team will qualify for critical booster vaccinations in the occupational category.
- AAPS Bond Advisory Group: AAPS is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the AAPS Bond Advisory Group.
- COVID Case Update: Over the past week, we have experienced an increase in COVID-19 cases across the district. Our weekly AAPS COVID-19 Case Dashboard, updated today, reports 42 cases involving 17 schools.
Full Text of This Message
Current Challenges and Steps We Are Taking
Our reality includes continuing COVID health and safety concerns for all students and staff, including the majority of students (under 12 years old) who populate 21 elementary and P8 locations, as well as 6th graders, who are also as yet unable to receive COVID vaccination and thus remain at greater risk. There also exist challenging realities of staffing and labor shortages rooted in a significant exit of staff members across all job positions, currently occurring across Michigan and the country.
Despite our best efforts, some operational processes, such as transportation, are not operating at the high-performance level we expect, plan and work for in the AAPS. I apologize for this situation, and we will continue to work hard to implement corrections. Thank you for the extra efforts you are each making to offer support during this difficult time; I appreciate your patience as we work through this time of tough challenges.
Significant labor shortages, despite competitive wages, weigh on our robust efforts to fully staff our schools. Our team continues to work long hours each day, and we have revised and updated Fall action plans in critical areas of staffing and operations based on what we have learned during the early weeks of this year.
Bright notes this fall include a successful recruitment effort, including a Fall AAPS Job Fair; we will seize this COVID labor shortage situation as an opportunity to welcome new talent to our high-performing AAPS team. Please consider and share our AAPS job openings across your network. You may review transportation positions here.
Recent positive news is encouraging regarding vaccination availability for children aged 5-11 years, potentially available later this fall, as well as the reassuring news that teachers and members of our AAPS team will qualify for critical booster vaccinations in the occupational category. These developments will contribute to sustaining our schools as safe and healthy places for our students and staff each day throughout this school year.
Bond Advisory Group
AAPS is pleased to announce that applications are now being accepted for the AAPS Bond Advisory Group. Applications will be accepted through Friday, October 29, 2021.
The purpose of the AAPS Bond Advisory Group is to engage community members and organizations in a collaborative process to help inform and make recommendations to the AAPS Board of Education Bond Committee and the Bond professional team. These recommendations will reflect the values and direction of the AAPS core mission to deliver a high-quality educational experience for all students. The Bond Advisory Group will assist in communicating bond updates to the community and will enhance partnerships in support of bond work.
Members of the Bond Advisory Group are requested to commit, ideally, for a minimum of 2 years. Service on the Bond Advisory Group will include regular attendance at monthly meetings and optional attendance at special events. Members agree to have their names and pictures posted on the district’s website.
AAPS Health and Safety - Weekly COVID Update
Our students, teachers and school teams are doing an excellent job of following the Super Six AAPS COVID mitigation strategies. Though we see some COVID cases in our schools, our nurse and school teams manage case identification and contact tracing efforts thoroughly and consistently each day in collaboration with the Washtenaw County Health Department.
We notify school communities of cases as they are confirmed and also update the AAPS COVID Case Dashboard every Friday.
Over the past week, we have experienced a significant increase in COVID-19 cases across the district. Our weekly AAPS COVID-19 Case Dashboard, updated today, reports 42 cases involving 17 schools. The majority of these cases are in students.
For the most up-to-date AAPS protocols throughout the school year, please visit the AAPS COVID Health and Safety Protocols located on the district homepage (last updated Friday, Sept. 25).
This week, we are observing a dynamic of family impact in COVID transmission occurring in families and affecting students who are siblings across schools. We continue to see minimal suspected in-school spread. It is more important than ever for students and staff to remain home when experiencing COVID symptoms. In the cases we are seeing, those students and adults who are vaccinated continue to be far less impacted by illness. It is clear that our high levels of vaccination in the AAPS provide substantial protection; we appreciate all who have been vaccinated and continue to strongly urge all who qualify to obtain a vaccination.
Our schools are open, and this represents progress. In a COVID era, our students, teachers and staff learning and growing together in schools represent a tremendous step forward. In the steps we each take every day, we demonstrate our care and commitment to our children, to each other, to our Ann Arbor community and to our shared future.
Thank you for your support of our students and staff, the Ann Arbor Public Schools and this wonderful Ann Arbor community.
Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools