Dearborn Public Schools is excited to announce the district has met the COVID measurements set by the Board of Education and will start phasing students and staff back to in-building learning.
Face-to-face learning labs for special education students who are part of the Act 18 program will start on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Learning labs for other students will start later next week. Most staff will report to their buildings starting Feb. 16.
The second week after learning labs start, schools will start reopening to all students for blended learning. With blended learning, students will be in school two days a week – either Monday and Thursday or Tuesday and Friday – and will work from home the other days. Wednesdays will be live online classes for all students.
The reopening schedule will go as follows:
March 1 – The first students return for blended learning, including grades kindergarten, first, second, sixth and ninth.
March 8 – More students start blended learning including preschool, third, fourth, fifth, seventh and 10th grades.
March 15 – The rest of students start blended learning including eighth, 11th and 12th grades.
There are a few other date changes to note.
Dearborn Public Schools was able to arrange COVID vaccinations for all the remaining staff who want them on Thursday and Friday of this week. Thursday will now be asynchronous for all students to allow teachers time to get the shot. Friday, Feb. 12 through Monday, Feb. 15 were already days off school for mid-winter break. Students will now have a half day of school on Feb. 16, and teachers will use the other half of the day to prepare to return to teaching students face-to-face. The district earlier canceled the remaining late starts to allow for this half day.
Parents can look for information soon from their child’s school about which days their students will attend and other details specific to the school. Every effort will be made to have siblings attend on the same day. This will be easier to accommodate at the elementary level but may be more difficult across school buildings. Parents can learn more about blended learning on the district’s back-to-school website. Busing and food service will be provided during blended learning.
In October, the Dearborn Schools Board of Education set two COVID measures for when the district would return to in-school learning. First, Dearborn was required to improve to at least a D grade on the COVID risk matrix put out by the Wayne County Health Department. The community improved to that grade in mid January and maintained it on the newest report issued on Monday.
However, the second requirement remained out of reach a bit longer. The positivity rate for Wayne County, outside of Detroit, needed to be at 5 percent or less on the weekly county report. The community met that measure on the report released Monday evening, falling to 5 percent even for last week.
At Monday’s Board of Education meeting, trustees did vote to tweak the reopening plan they have followed since October. Up to that point, the plan had required that the county positivity rate be at 5 percent or lower for two weeks before blended learning started. Trustees removed the requirement for the second week to avoid further delaying the reopening if the positivity were to tick up next week.
Superintendent Glenn Maleyko noted that after schools are open, the decision about possibly returning to an all remote-learning model would be made by the administration. He told trustees that the district would continue to look at the community risk matrix, which includes the positivity rate as one of the factors, but the positivity rate alone would not drive the decision. Other factors that would be considered include evaluating conditions in a particular school and considering the advice of the Wayne County Health Department before deciding to return a building or the district to a completely virtual model.
“We have been preparing for months to reopen schools and are so glad we are finally able to get students back into our classrooms,” Dr. Maleyko said. “Getting vaccinations for our staff is also wonderful news to help ensure their safety as we move toward returning all our students to face-to-face learning. We know that in-school learning is the best environment for most students. However, COVID is not gone. We need the community to continue to be vigilant about wearing masks and doing their part to control the spread of the virus so we can keep our students in school.”
The use of face masks, social distancing, hand washing, cleaning protocols and other safety measures will continue to be followed as staff and students return to the buildings. Although Michigan loosened the requirements for schools to reopen, Dearborn Schools will continue to follow more stringent guidelines. For example, the district will wipe down the interior of buses between each run rather than only at the end of the day. Schools have added signage to the entrances of buildings and throughout hallways to keep all who enter the building safe. Parents are asked to contact their child’s school if they have specific questions about health and safety procedures being followed in the building.