1-29-21 Community Communication

January 29, 2021

Hello Milan School Community,

This message has information about this year and the planning process for next year.  The specific topics covered include:

  • Snow Days
  • 2020-2021 Instructional Model Decisions
  • Planning for 2021-2022

Snow Days
While we hope there is not a need for a snow day this year, we all know that we live in Michigan and that weather can be unpredictable.  As always, student and staff safety is of the utmost importance when making the decision to close school.  If/when a snow day is called, both hybrid and virtual students will observe the school cancellation.  With staff at home, it is not possible for all staff to conduct synchronous instruction or to upload new asynchronous materials.  Students should take the day to work on any assignments they might have outstanding.  Most importantly, students need to go outside and play in the snow!

2020-2021 Instructional Model Decisions
Governor Whitmer has urged all school systems to provide a model of instruction that allows for in-person delivery on or before March 1st.  Milan’s current hybrid model (with full virtual option) meets that request. The Governor’s comments have been misinterpreted by some to mean that schools should return to all-day every-day instruction by March 1st. I do not believe that is the true intent of the Governor’s statements. Instead, the Governor wants to see districts that are only providing virtual instruction to implement some type of in-person model.

The CDC recently provided additional guidance on returning to school.  The guidance does support returning to school in-person in some fashion.  The recommendation also discusses the importance of maintaining mitigation measures like face masks and social distancing.  The guidance does discuss that hybrid models should be implemented if necessary to maintain proper social distancing measures.

Milan Area Schools understands the importance of in-person instruction and maintains a true desire to have students in the classroom all-day every-day. However, staff, student, and family safety has to be factored into the decision making process.  At this time, the slow roll-out of the vaccine, the presence of the new variant of COVID in Washtenaw County, and the 6-foot social distancing rules for close contact quarantining do not support placing 28-32 students in a classroom.  The hybrid model allows for appropriate safety measures when considering all factors.  The Board of Education will continue to review our instructional model monthly.

Planning for 2021-2022
As the district begins to plan for the 2021-2022 school year, we are planning a full in-person return as our primary model.  While that may change, we feel it is important to have this goal in mind.  We will have alternative models planned as well, but will only move forward with them if it is absolutely a necessity.  

The main focus of our planning for the 2021-2022 school year is providing the support necessary to make up for delayed learning caused by COVID.  Therefore, our initial planning includes evaluating every aspect of our curriculum, instruction, and assessment.  In addition, we will be analyzing student time spent in core-content classes, reviewing elective programming, considering alternative daily schedules for students as well as numerous other aspects of daily operations.  We will also be evaluating the effectiveness of our hybrid and virtual models, with a goal of incorporating positive aspects of both into our instructional methodology for next year.  Over the next couple of months, stakeholder input will be sought on these topics.

Thank you for taking the time to read this lengthy memo,  
Bryan M. Girbach
Milan Area Schools