Farmington Schools may have remote 2020-21 start

During a Monday virtual Town Hall on the 2020-2021 school year, Farmington Public Schools (FPS) Superintendent Dr. Bob Herrera said work groups are now fast-tracking a proposal to start with remote learning.

Hosted by the district’s PTA (Parent Teacher Association) Council, the event opened with State Rep. Christine Greig providing an overview of state funding and legislation. Brandy Johnson, Advisor for Governor Whitmer’s Education Policy Team, discussed a “Return to School Roadmap” developed by a state committee to guide local decisions about reopening schools during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, the district outlined four options that each depend on the severity of the pandemic, as measured by Michigan’s Safe Start program:

  • Fully remote Instruction, in Phases 1-3 (uncontrolled growth, persistent spread, flattening)
  • In-person Instruction with required safety protocols, with the potential for hybrid
    instruction, in Phase 4 (improving)
  • In-person Instruction with limited safety protocols, in Phase 5 (containing)
  • Traditional in-person instruction, in Phase 6 (post-pandemic)

A Virtual Learning Path, fully remote with a curriculum purchased by the district, is available to K-12 students in all phases.

‘Very fast track’ 

Three of seven school board members have said they’re not comfortable sending kids back to school buildings, and that came up during a Q&A with district staff. Herrera said the board’s Academic Excellence subcommittee has asked for a look at the virtual option.

“We are on a very fast track to consider starting the school year remote,” Herrera said. Decisions made in Lansing could still mean a return to buildings after the start of the year, so staff teams are also looking at how that transition would work.

After a subcommittee review on Tuesday, the proposal will go to the full Board of Education on Wednesday, bargaining groups on Thursday, the district’s leadership team on Friday, and the public next week, Herrera said.

‘A lot more work to do’

Trustees are required to approve a final back to school plan by August 15; the proposal will be on their August 11 agenda. In addition to the broader plan, “companion documents” will provide families with more building-specific information.

Herrera thanked families for their patience and explained that officials thought “changing gears over the course of two or three weeks, and then having a new plan come out, would cause additional stress for our parents and educators.”

“We’re still not there yet,” he added. “Even as we make a decision… there’s a lot more work to do, and we will have to work very closely with our parents and our students and our staff. There’s a lot of training we have to do here.”

The 90-minute Town Hall, which offers information about back-to-school safety measures, the Virtual Learning Path versus remote learning, extracurriculars, electives, and more, is now available to watch online.



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