By Carolyn Marnon – Virtual learning will continue through the end of the first semester in the Wayne Westland Community School District. That decision was unanimously approved at the October 29 School Board meeting held online via Zoom after listening to comments from the online audience for almost 90 minutes.
The school board was presented with two options. The first option was to have students return to school under the Hybrid plan where they would attend school 2 days per week and do online learning on the other days. Half the students would attend school in-person on Tuesday and Thursday while the other half would attend in-person on Wednesday and Friday. The second option had all students continuing to learn virtually through the end of the first semester. The second semester will start January 19.
Members of the community, parents, students and staff were able to comment before the board made their decision. All students who spoke declared their preference for staying virtual. One student said that students have gotten used to the schedule and have been able to work their other activities around online learning.
Several parents are frontline or essential workers who are in environments everyday where they see what is happening with the COVID-19 virus. These parents want to keep their children out of harm’s way. Another parent was concerned about the ventilation system and air quality at her child’s school while also mentioning that daily COVID-19 cases are higher now than when students started attending school virtually in August. Several parents spoke about how no cases have been reported in Canton or Livonia schools where students attend in person. No cases through the afterschool program – Champions – were said to be reported either. Parents send their children to daycare where there seem to be no problem. Why not return students to in-person learning? they ask.
There were pleas by multiple parents of children with learning problems to allow students back in the schools. Several comments were made about children being depressed and having anxiety by not being in school with friends. Other comments revolved around students being distracted and not able to concentrate at the computer.
Lisa Marie Bailey, whose 3 year old autistic child is in a program at Stottlemyer made the plea “Bright futures start here. Please don’t let COVID dim her light” while rallying for an in-person return to education.
For now, students will continue learning via their virtual classroom.
For anyone who wants to sign up for the district’s online program, Edgenuity, sign-ups will begin November 2 and run through December 2. Under this learning program, students would have to stay with the program the entire semester until the end of the school year in June. This is a special online learning program that was created before the pandemic for students who would learn better in an online over a classroom setting. It is a completely separate program from the current virtual learning. To learn more, visit https://www.wwcsd.net/.
In the month of October, starting October 10, there have been 3 positive COVID cases (two at Schweitzer Elementary and one at Stevenson Middle School). Twelve people have been quarantined in that period – students or staff. Previous to that, since school started, 3 positive cases had been reported along with 37 quarantines. You can stay up-to-date with these figures at the COVID-19 Dashboard on the district’s website.
“We’re trying to base every single decision on what’s best for our kids,” said WWCSD Superintendent John Dignan during a Return to Learn presentation online. “Great futures start right here, and we’re going to start another chapter of that here in the next few weeks.” In his final comments at the board meeting, Supt. Dignan said, “We’re going to move forward as one school system and one heartbeat.”