East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko sent a new communication to district families at 1:30 p.m. today looking to address the flood of questions she is getting about management of the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Administrators at Michigan State University decided earlier today to shift classes to online through at least April 20, and the World Health Organization (WHO) has just declared the virus pandemic.
Leyko says the county’s superintendents will be meeting as a group this afternoon to “discuss plans and communication.” The group is also communicating with the county Health Department and the “district Central Office team is meeting first thing tomorrow morning. We are in the process of making plans for if/when we are directed to close.”
A challenge is having to take into account that the virus seems to present little danger to children, but that children can become vectors for transmission.
In a communication yesterday, Leyko raised concerns about moving instruction to online-only when some families do not have access to the technology needed for this type of instruction.
Families on the lower end of the income spectrum could find themselves in significantly more danger than the virus presents if parents have to abandon jobs to stay home with young children. Families in those situations could face losing housing, money for food, and health insurance.
Wrote Leyko today, “Please know that this is an unprecedented situation for all of us and that information changes so quickly. I am doing my best to be responsive yet not reactive. As new information becomes available, decisions may, too, change. Your emails, texts, etc. are all important to me, but know that I am prioritizing my activities today around planning, preparation and communication. I will respond to your email as soon as I’m able.”
She added, “We are all going to need to be patient and flexible — this situation is fluid and quickly changing. Assume good intentions by all others and act with grace and compassion. People react to situations like these in such a variety of ways, all understandable no matter where you may personally lie on that spectrum of responses — we will all get through this and may need to rely on the support of others or be those who provide support to others.”