November 5, 2021 - Superintendent's Update
Friday, November 5, 2021
As we begin November in the AAPS this week, we are thankful for the tremendous work of our extraordinary students, our school and district teams, our parents and community. We are stronger when we work together, and we are making solid progress in supporting our students through this fall.
To get a quick glimpse into one of our schools, check out 2 minutes at Skyline High School, one in our series sharing insights into the tremendous work going on in our AAPS schools this fall.
Positive news this week includes a significant and exciting step: pediatric COVID-19 vaccines are now available for 5-11 year-olds. Vaccine appointments for children are available in the community through pediatricians, at pharmacies and other locations. We continue our work alongside MDHHS staff to coordinate a series of vaccination events in the AAPS, with upcoming tentative beginning dates set for November 16th and 18th; more detailed information will be shared on these MDHHS vaccination clinics offered in the AAPS next week.
The availability of pediatric vaccines and booster shots are significant developments that will contribute to sustaining our schools as healthy places for our students and staff to gather and learn in-person each day throughout this school year.
Summary Highlights of Superintendent Update (1-2 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.
- The COVID-19 Response Team continues to add additional testing opportunities across schools as we move forward this fall.
- Our weekly AAPS COVID-19 Case Dashboard, updated today, reports 30 cases involving 17 schools and district locations.
- AAPS Guidelines for High School and Middle School Athletics, Performing Arts and other Extracurriculars
- Ventilation Improvements: As colder weather arrives, we continue to take important steps to improve Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems across all 35 AAPS buildings and 3,500,000 square feet.
Superintendent Update - Full Message
COVID-19 Response Team Responsive Rapid Antigen Testing
Pop-Up Antigen Testing: The COVID-19 Response Team continues to provide pop-up antigen testing events at schools and programs with multiple cases. This ‘screening’ testing is for students and staff who may have been exposed to COVID-19 at school. Testing large groups also helps AAPS understand the potential spread of the virus at a particular school so we can take additional steps if needed.
Additional Student Testing: The COVID-19 Response Team has also provided testing at schools to classrooms, small groups of students in programs and individual students whose families face barriers to accessing tests.
The COVID-19 Response Team will continue to add additional testing opportunities across AAPS schools as we move forward this fall.
COVID-19 Case Update
This week we continue to see high COVID transmission in our Ann Arbor community. Our weekly AAPS COVID-19 Case Dashboard, updated today, reports 30 cases involving 17 schools and district locations. The majority of these cases are among students, and unfortunately, one community outbreak affected several students at more than one school this week. Our AAPS team remains in close communication with the WCHD about these and all cases in the AAPS.
As the weather cools off, it is more important than ever for students and staff to remain home when experiencing COVID-like symptoms. In the cases we are seeing, vaccinated students and adults 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 we continue to strongly urge all who qualify to obtain a vaccination.
AAPS Winter and Spring Athletic, Extracurricular, and Performing Arts COVID Safety Guidelines Shared
For the health and safety of our students, staff, and community, the Ann Arbor Public Schools requires high school and middle school students participating in athletics, performing arts, and other school extracurricular activities to follow the AAPS COVID-19 safety protocols, including providing proof of COVID-19 vaccination or submitting proof of negative COVID-19 tests twice each week and prior to every competition or performance.
You may learn more about the AAPS COVID-19 athletic, extracurricular, and performing arts safety protocols, informed by the Washtenaw County Health Department (WCHD) requirements and recommendations for school districts here.
As the weather turns colder and our students and staff are spending more time indoors, here are some reminders regarding ventilation as part of our AAPS Super Six risk mitigation strategies. As always, opening of windows and going outside is encouraged when weather permits. We are grateful for all the efforts among parent groups, school and district teams, and community groups to innovate and enhance outdoor lunch, learning, and leisure spaces across our beautiful AAPS school campuses.
Principals and school teams continue to refine plans for indoor lunches in preparation for colder weather days; strategies include spacing students, designated seating, and use of various locations in the schools for lunches and breaks throughout the day.
The District recognized early in the pandemic that ventilation was a critical part of a layered risk mitigation strategy. We have been working with consulting engineers since April of 2020 to improve Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems across all 35 AAPS buildings,1,000 classrooms, and 3,500,000 square feet. These improvements have included:
- Commissioning and deep cleaning of all ventilation equipment
- Developing a new Enhanced Indoor Air Quality (EIAQ) mode of operation for the HVAC systems that maximizes the rate of ventilation well beyond the normal operating mode
- Increasing the efficacy of the district air filters to MERV 13 and increasing the replacement frequency to three times per year
- Conducted a study of each building measuring the effective Air Changes per Hour (ACH) in occupied spaces. The study results are posted on the District's website here: https://www.a2schools.org/Page/17271
- Installing portable air cleaners in spaces that fall below the recommended 5 ACH level.
- Installing portable air cleaners in all cafeterias.
These actions have been presented publicly to the Board of Education on several occasions and are captured here in video format:
- Comprehensive Room Ventilation Study (3/17/2021)
- Readiness of School Buildings for a COVID Informed Return (11/18/20)
- Physical Properties Update (9/30/20)
In case you missed it, other recent news in the AAPS :
- Skyline wins field hockey state championship
- Clague 8th grader one of 30 finalists in national STEM competition
Exceptional Profiles of AAPS Team Members:
- Eberwhite 4th Grade Teacher
- Intervention Specialist at Slauson
- Wines Music Teacher
- Pioneer Social Studies Teacher
I want to share special gratitude for everyone on our team - our students, teachers, school teams and leaders, parents and our Ann Arbor community. All are working incredibly hard together, making efforts every day to support our students and sustain this exciting opening of our schools this fall. Step-by-step, we are making progress together.
In the actions and 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 all our students and of the Ann Arbor Public Schools.
Jeanice K. Swift
Superintendent of Schools
Ann Arbor Public Schools