Introduction: The Westwood Community School District is committed to providing relevant information to its students, staff, parents, and communities during this time of crisis and uncertainty. We know that you have many questions about Governor Whitmer’s school closure order and what it means for the school district and for your child. We hope these Questions and Answers provide you with the information that you seek.
[Disclaimer: This living document is a plain-language guide intended to answer commonly asked questions about implementing the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-35. It will be updated as new questions are asked/answered or existing questions/answers are modified/clarified. (MAISA, 2019)
1. How will schools educate students now that face-to-face learning is suspended until June 30, 2020? While school buildings are closed and teachers are not able to provide in-person instruction, teaching and learning will continue through Michigan’s public schools under an approved Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan.
2. What is a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan? A Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan (“Plan”) is an official, approved document that describes how schools will provide teaching and learning during this time period. The Plan is a part of an application that school districts must submit, per the Governor’s Executive Order 2020-35, to waive 2019-20 requirements so schools can continue to receive state aid (payments) for operations.
3. Will all Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plans be the same? Every district’s plan will be different and will reflect what’s best and feasible for their community. [Note: Districts can partner with one another to create joint plans.] However they are designed, districts must ensure their plans are appropriate, equitable and accessible for students and families.
4. What needs to be included in the Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan? A district plan will need to detail how districts will provide opportunities for students to learn remotely (at home) and how schools will manage and monitor their progress. It will also provide information on how students and parents or guardians will be notified about the local plan. It will also provide a best estimate of the date on which the district will begin implementation of the Plan, which must be no later than April 28, 2020. Each district must have its plan approved by its Intermediate School District. Westwood plans to begin its Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan on April 21st. Parents and students will be notified through the Westwood Community School District website, social media (district’s Facebook page), and by letter through the U.S. Mail.
5. Does Executive Order 2020-35 change graduation and credit requirements for this school year? Yes. For students in grade 12, schools must allow students the opportunity to complete the Michigan Merit Curriculum and issue grades, award credit, and issue diplomas as appropriate. Executive Order 2020-35 gives power to school officials to determine whether and how to issue grades and award credit, and it suspends the requirement that credit is determined based on mastery of state-approved content standards. EO 2020-35 also removes the Civics requirement for graduation. For a 12th grade student who was failing a course before March 11, 2020, schools must provide an opportunity for the student to demonstrate learning in the class/course and the opportunity to earn a credit in the course, as determined by the school.
6. Does the Westwood Community School District plan to have Prom and a Graduation Ceremony for the Class of 2020? Yes. At this time, we plan to hold both events. We know that this has been a difficult and unusual time, but we are committed to preserving some type of normalcy for our seniors and their families. However, there may be a few changes such as dates, times, and locations, but we will communicate any changes in enough time for students and families to prepare. Also, our plan to hold both events depends on when and if the “Stay home, Stay Safe” guidelines are lifted.
7. Does Executive Order 2020-35 cancel standardized assessments for the rest of this school year? Yes. EO 2020-35 cancels all remaining standardized assessments for the 2019-20 school year, including MME, M-STEP/MI-ACCESS, PSAT, WIDA, and Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. Eleventh-grade students scheduled to take the MME during the school closure will take the SAT portion of the assessment on a date to be determined in the fall. The results will be used for college entrance purposes but not for school accountability purposes. Students who were scheduled to take the PSAT during the school closure will take it during a designated school day this fall.
8. Does Executive Order 2020-35 suspend the Read-By-Grade-Three retention requirement? Yes. EO 2020-35 suspends the requirement for the 2019-20 school year that schools retain/hold back certain students who have not reached reading benchmarks by the third grade.
9. Can districts require in-person work? It depends. Districts should promote remote work to the fullest extent possible and may only require employees and contractors to work on-site if in-person work is absolutely necessary to conduct minimum basic school operations or facilitate Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan. All in-person work should be consistent with the guidelines set out section 3 of the order.
10. Do the limitations on in-person instruction prohibit a teacher from visiting a pupil so long as they maintain social distancing requirements? In-person instruction, including visits with social distancing, should be avoided whenever possible.
11. Can districts begin or continue school construction projects? In general, no. While some limited forms of construction are permissible under Executive Order 2020-42, “Stay Home Stay Safe” or any order that may follow, school construction projects do not generally qualify under these limited circumstances. However, emergency maintenance and repairs are permitted to restore functionality of district buildings.
For construction projects that have already begun, workers are only permitted to preserve the current condition of the project, such as putting in place temporary security and weatherization measures. All other in-person work on school construction projects must cease until the restrictions of the order are lifted and normal operations resume.