Michigan superintendents prepare for an uncertain future amid COVID-19

Posted at 12:19 PM, Mar 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-31 12:48:00-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Michigan schools are facing an unprecedented scenario in the midst of this pandemic.

Gov. Whitmer has alluded to the challenges of students returning to school this academic year, as we continue to battle COVID-19. However, she hasn't made a formal announcement on plans to close K-12 schools in the state. In-person instruction was canceled earlier this month, as districts moved to virtual learning.

Related: Gov. Whitmer to sign executive order closing schools for remainder of school year, report says

A recent report from Bridge Magazine claims that announcement is coming -- citing sources familiar with the drafting of an executive order to close K-12 schools until the Fall.

“I think you have to be prepared for both," said Dr. Amy Kruppe, the Superintendent of Hazel Park Schools. “Some of our children are online and some of them are not. And our teachers are reaching out through email, they’re reaching out through Zoom, they’re making phone calls.”

Kruppe said about 60 percent of Hazel Park students are connected to online learning via devices, and 40 percent of families are not.

"For the last two weeks we have started down the road already of assuming we’re not going back," she said.

The drafted executive order according to the Bridge report would apply to both public and private schools in the state. Under the order:

  • Seniors would graduate as long as their district determined they were on track prior to shut down
  • Grades K-11 would advance as long as their district determined they were on track prior to shut down
  • Juniors would take the SAT in the Fall (it's normally taken in March)
  • Teachers would continue to be paid

“We’ve been working really hard the past couple weeks to address that social and emotional learning that we know is so important when we’re in a crisis that like," said Carrie Wozniak with Fraser Public Schools.

Both superintendents said maintaining a set schedule for students is vital to keep a sense of balance, and also maintaining academic engagement.

Dr. Kruppe suggested reading daily is something easy and accessible for all families during this time.

Both also said district websites are packed with educational materials and supplemental learning guides.

Some are urging state leaders not to make a decision until April 30. An online petition has gathered around 30,000 signatures.

"A blanket cancelation at this point in time will impact the communities’ spirit and sense of hope. For the mental health of the communities and mental health of students please assess the school closure two weeks at a time, similar to what other states are doing," the petition reads.

According to the Bridge report, the situation is still fluid and changes to the details of the executive order are possible.

A spokesperson for Gov. Whitmer's office told Action News Tuesday morning no final decisions have been made.

The Bridge report states an announcement could come Tuesday or Wednesday.

This is a developing story.

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