Scroll down for the parent questionnaire link and other resources.
August 11, 2020
Dear Owosso Families:
The safe reopening of school has been the hardest professional decision I have had to make in my 25-year career. I am used to making difficult decisions, but none have been tougher than this. I am worried. I’m concerned about our kids, our families, our staff, our community, and beyond. I have carefully listened to input from parents, our educational team, community members, health care workers, experts at the health department, lawyers, the state and federal government requirements and recommendations, Owosso Board of Education members, etc. Beliefs and opinions are strong and often contradictory, but through it all, the Owosso team has been working on the Return to Learn Plan that provides options for our students. Attending school is very important to the development and well-being of most, if not all, of our children. It gives them rich educational experiences, social and emotional skills, safety, reliable nutrition, speech and mental health therapy, and physical activity opportunities, among other benefits. Our goal is to ensure that the benefits of in-person education far outweighs the risks.
For the 2020-2021 school year, Owosso begins school on Tuesday, September 8, while other schools in our area are starting almost two weeks before us. Our later start date is due to our bond construction projects, which are progressing beautifully and will provide incredible modern day facilities and amenities for all students. As a result of this later opening, we have the unique opportunity to learn from the positive things other districts are doing and reflect and adjust processes/procedures where there is room for improvement.
The parent survey (which garnered tremendous response and I sincerely thank all who participated) indicated that 72% of respondents desired an option for in-person instruction and 28% desired an option for online instruction. In honoring the desire for choices, Owosso Public Schools’ plan offers both options. Both options take into account the need for academic rigor, accountability, clear expectations, and relationship building.
The Return to Learn Plan is attached to this email. You will note that the school day for all in-person learning, except preschool at Bentley Bright Beginnings, has been shortened but has students coming to school every day. As educators, we know, that everyday contact is important for relationship building, consistency, and routines. We are also planning to provide an extended learning option at the elementary level for parents whose work schedules are not conducive to the shortened school day schedule. Bentley Bright Beginnings preschool and childcare will maintain their regular hours and will offer at-home learning opportunities for those who select that option.
The shortened school day is a result of our desire to 1.) Ensure that students have the same teacher when they transition from online to in-person learning or vice-versa which may occur multiple times this year depending on what phase we are in and; 2.) Provide teachers with ample time to prepare meaningful and engaging lessons for all students on their class lists, whether online or in-person. In this way, we can ensure that teachers can build meaningful relationships and provide engaging opportunities for all their students.
Families who select the online learning option for their children can be assured that their children will receive engaging and rigorous lessons from their child’s highly-qualified teacher or teachers. They will remain constant whether receiving in-person or online instruction. Lessons will be provided throughout the day for these students and there will be a dedicated time daily when students can communicate with their teacher.
The choices can be unique for each child in the family. However, if a parent chooses the online platform for their child, the child must maintain that platform option until at least September 30 and possibly through the first marking period. Online students will not be permitted (unless under unique and individualized circumstances) to resume in-person learning during this time because we will be working diligently to reduce in-person class sizes to the smallest number possible to provide for as much social distancing as possible.
Our Return to Learn Plan is contingent on the county being in Phase IV as Phase III will change things drastically. Phase V will include minor alterations. Careful consideration has been given to the format of our in-person and online options to provide for easier transitions between phases if or when necessary. Our plan offers choices for both in-person and online learning options; however, I think I would be remiss if I did not share that I think every parent should be prepared for an online only option if the county moves back into a phase III or for some other reason.
At this time, I am sharing a link to a form that all parents must complete to commit to one of the learning choices that we are offering. Please complete one form for EACH child in your household by no later than NOON on TUESDAY, AUGUST 18. We understand this is a very short turnaround time for such an important decision. The following materials will help answer questions you may have, allow you time to process the learning choices, and obtain a better understanding of the processes we have in place for students safety:
· Link to Dr. Tuttle’s video outlining the Return to Learn Plan https://youtu.be/lhlvWSise24
· Link to Return to Learn Choice Selection Questionnaire https://forms.gle/cc71xYuJ99VPTM8M9
· Frequently Asked Question document (attached)
· Process for a COVID-19 Case at School (attached)
- Return to Learn Plan in PDF form
Thank you for your patience and understanding while we developed this plan!
Dr. Andrea Tuttle