Dexter schools make COVID plan for new school year

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As things stand at this time with COVID-19, Dexter Community Schools will begin the upcoming school year wearing masks for protection against spreading the virus.

After taking in a lot of community input, which included many parents who support wearing masks and those who are against it, the DCS Board of Education made the decision at its Aug. 18 special meeting to go with what was called option 2A and approved COVID-19 mitigation measures for the 2021-2022 school year.

In an email to the school community, DCS Superintendent Chris Timmis summed up some of the plan by saying it “includes mask requirements for all students when we start school this year, based on the current level of community spread rates. Students will have at least 3 feet of spacing at lunch at Anchor, Beacon, Wylie, Creekside, and Mill Creek. At the high school, students will have availability of seats at 3 feet spacing.”

One big goal of the plan is, “Kids are learning safely in school buildings, every day, for 2021-2022.”

The plan has different levels that are determined by the latest information on the local spread of COVID. The levels range from low, moderate, substantial and high. When the school board decision was made on Aug. 18, the Dexter community was considered to be in the substantial level.

Here is a graphic of part of the overall plan as the data stood on Aug. 18:

A full copy of the plan is available at this link.

Going forward, the school district still has more planning to do in preparation of the new school year. One part of this is determining who would like to have their child do virtual learning.

In an email message to the school community, Timmis said:

“Now that we have a formal decision on protocols for the fall, we are providing families with an opportunity to select a remote option. After listening to community feedback and considering staffing constraints, we are asking families who desire a virtual option to commit through either January or for the entire school year. The rest of this message is primarily for families considering enrolling their student(s) in the virtual open for fall 2021.”

“For students in grades K-6, our virtual program utilizes Lincoln Learning for the academic content. We know that academics is one part of the school experience. Lincoln Learning provides a rich virtual environment and learning opportunities. For students who select that option, DCS will provide a DCS teacher for daily community-building connections and student mentorship. Layering in a Dexter teacher will provide opportunities to develop the other important skills that are learned in school – things such as social, emotional, and behavioral skills and community connectedness. This layer will likely involve multi-age groupings of students who meet via zoom for a daily class meeting. However, this option is available for full-remote only and students will not have the option to attend in-person for specials like art, music, etc.”

“In grades 7-12, DCS has always offered either Lincoln Learning or Michigan Virtual for students. DCS provides a Dexter teacher mentor to work as a liaison between the students and the course instructors.”

“Families who would like to enroll in one of our virtual options will need to complete this survey by Monday, August 23rd in order for us to make the appropriate class changes and staffing adjustments to support the transition. This will be your official selection for Fall 2021. Students enrolled in one of our virtual options will be given the opportunity to move from remote to in-person learning in January (at the semester change). We will need families to make a decision in November if they want to move to in-person in January. This will provide DCS with the time to make appropriate staffing changes and support student success.”

“We know this is a change from what we were able to offer last school year. Last year, the legislature and the Michigan Department of Education provided significant flexibility to schools to offer remote options that are no longer available to us this school year. As a result, we’re able to provide virtual programming similar to what we provided pre-pandemic while layering in community-building supports that we developed last school year.”

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