Metro Detroit parents consider transitioning kids to hybrid in-class learning

Posted at 5:57 AM, Sep 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-24 06:30:58-04

(WXYZ) — Most students in metro Detroit are learning remotely, but there is a growing push to move students off line and begin in-person education.

But how do districts decide when the time is right, and what's the plan to move the children back to school?

Andrea is a mother of four. Her children are learning remotely for now. Their district, Birmingham schools, is transitioning to hybrid learning. She says the choice to send her kids back is a difficult one.

"They said, 'well, am I going to have my same teacher?' I said, 'I don't know.' Well, is my friend so-and-so going to be in my class? I don't know. Am I going to go in the morning half of this school? I don't know," said Andrea.

The return to hybrid in-class learning in Birmingham, like most districts, will feature daily screenings. But the switch also means many teachers will be reassigned to new classes.

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Kindergarten and first graders return Sept. 30. There will be morning and afternoon cohorts for half-day in-person instruction for language arts and math. Half day of science and social studies will remain virtual. Students will be added two grades at a time through middle.

Andrea wonders if it’s worth the effort.

"It's only two and a half hours of instruction per day. So you're getting ready, going into school, being six feet apart, in lines, you get into your class, you have two subjects and then you leave," the mother of four said.

"I was disappointed because in-person instruction is much better than online," said Dr. Glenn Maleyko.

Dearborn Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko says in-person instruction is superior. But Dearborn schools has had to push plans to bring students back several times because of community infection rates.

Still, planning is underway. He’s recommending small groups of elementary students also be the first to return half days or every other day.

"We were actually going to start what we call learning labs, which would have phased in one to three students at a time. And we were going to use that as a test trial," Dr. Maleyko said.

If all goes well, more younger students would be added slowly. But the return for middle and high schoolers is farther out.

That's the same for Birmingham schools. Maleyko says about a third of this district’s buildings are between 65 and 100 years old and space is a challenge.

"Right now, I actually have a team going through all the buildings at the secondary level, at the high school and middle school to see how many students we could actually have in the school at a time and social distance," said Dr. Maleyko. "But it is distancing outside the class that will determine when and how successfully the transition to hybrid and in person learning will be.

"So you really have to trust your your neighbors and your community to be doing the right thing," said Andrea.

And that's a sentiment shared by Dr. Maleyko. He says he and other community leaders are creating a campaign to urge the Dearborn community to mask up, to get the infection rates down there and across Wayne County for public health and education.

And in each case ,there will be extensive protocols in place on how to handle cases of COVID-19 that will not doubt appear.