ELPS Will Start Year With No In-Person Classes; Board Meets Tonight

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Raymond Holt for ELi

ELPS Superintendent Dori Leyko at the Jan. 27, 2020, meeting of the School Board.

The East Lansing Public Schools Board of Education will hold a virtual meeting this evening to discuss plans for returning to school in August. At that meeting, Superintendent Dori Leyko will formally submit her fall plan, which we now know includes beginning the 2020-21 school year fully remotely, with no in-person classes.

Instruction will be fully remote until at least September 30.

ELPS will re-evaluate COVID-19 data no later than the week of September 21, 2020, to see if a return to physical classrooms is feasible. At that point, either remote instruction will continue or students will gradually return to the classroom—a process that may take two to three weeks.

The ELPS plan comes a couple of weeks after Lansing Public Schools announced that it would use a fully online format for the first marking period, which ends in November. LPS has promised to provide all students with a device and internet access.

ELPS also vows to solve connectivity issues by providing K-2 students with iPads and students grade 3-12 with a Chromebook or laptop. Those without internet access will receive a hotspot connection or other support.

During the last school year’s spring semester, Superintendent Dori Leyko and the Board of Education hesitated to promote online learning and engagement, citing concerns about equity and accessibility.

In her newly-released letter to parents, Leyko acknowledged “that there is not a feasible plan that meets the desires and wishes of all stakeholders.” But, she said, she believes that remote instruction in the fall will be far superior to the spring’s “emergency distance learning.”

Students will have a set schedule with face-to-face, synchronous learning 5 days a week with some “breakrooms” for differentiated learning and independent time as well.

All will receive grades and a standard report card. That will come as a relief to parents, students, and Board members who were frustrated with the lack of grades during the emergency learning period.

Leyko says that teachers are undergoing training for teaching online. ELPS has streamlined its online platforms, with the plan to have K-2 students use only SeeSaw and to have all others use Google Classrooms.

English learners may have the ability to work in smaller groups. Case workers are expected to be reaching out to families of students with IEPs and 504 plans.

ELPS also promises a focus on mental health, providing all students with a screening and training teachers and staff to assist students and families address “a long layoff, the effects of living through this pandemic, the death of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement.”

Those interested in learning more or commenting on the plan can attend tonight’s School Board meeting via Zoom at 7pm. Information on how to attend the meeting is available here, and the agenda is available here.

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