Farmington Schools may move 6-12 return date to November

After feedback from trustees and families, Farmington Public Schools officials are looking at a faster return date for students in grades 6-12.

A plan presented Tuesday would have alternating groups of students back in buildings on November 30. Last month, administrators said they were developing plans that would have secondary students back on January 25, the start of a new term.

At that time, Assistant Superintendent for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Bobbie Goodrum said the later date would allow for a complete restructuring of schedules to meet students’ needs and minimize time in shared spaces.

“The main challenge with starting on January 25… is that delays the potential for students to be in person,” she said, “and we know that a lot of families are feeling that right now, the need for their students to engage in person.”

Secondary Return to Learning

A mid-semester start, Goodrum said, would require teachers to serve students who are in-person, hybrid remote, and fully remote all at the same time.

“There are concerns that remote learning students will not have the same level of attention because teachers would also be working with students in front of them in that classroom setting,” she said. “Face-to-face instruction will look very similar to virtual instruction.”

A/B hybrid plan safest

Administrators started with six plans for a November 30 start. The preferred hybrid plan would have groups in person for 4.5 hours on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday, and remote three days a week. Custodial staff would do a deep cleaning on Wednesdays.

“There’s a very large number of classrooms,” Goodrum said. “It will take a long time to thoroughly clean and disinfect these buildings.”

The schedule could also be implemented virtually if the district has to close buildings again. Goodrum said the district’s IT director believes the technology infrastructure can support simultaneous in-person and remote instruction.

Teachers will be required to spray desks between classes, a practice that Superintendent Bob Herrera said illustrates one of the reasons Farmington Schools has been slower to send kids back into buildings.

“My understanding is that other districts are having students clean desks and equipment between classes on their own,” he said. “Our board has been adamant that they wanted us to consider the highly recommended strategies (in the Michigan Safe Start Plan) and that is why we would rely on the adults more heavily than our students.”

While the A/B hybrid plan was considered the safest of those offered, Goodrum said, “the feedback from the staff is very much pro January 25.”

The board meeting marked the first public presentation of the model. Parents are encouraged to comment, filling out one survey for each student, here: bit.ly/SecondarySurvey. The survey closes October 14.

View the Secondary Return to In-Person presentation.

View the October 8 board meeting (presentation starts around 53:30)

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