School district unveils half-day hybrid plan
Birmingham Public Schools Superintendent Mark Dziatckak introduced two plans for school this fall at a study session for the board of dducation on Tuesday, July 28, one a hybrid where students will attend half-days five days a week, and the other an online virtual model. The board of education will need to formally approve the recommendation at an upcoming meeting. “We have been closely monitoring recommendations from the state of Michigan, CDC, the county and across the world,” Dziatczak said. “We spoke with about 150 people just in the last week alone. The State of Michigan Roadmap provided us with guidelines.” He said the district is recommending the half-day hybrid model, rather than an A-day, B-day model, after parent surveys and feedback from focus groups because it permits limited in-person instruction everyday while maximizing social distancing. “It increases the social/emotional connection and increased in-person learning compared to the every other day hybrid model,” he said. It is not without drawbacks, he noted, such as instructional time is limited to half the time; it is complicated, for teachers, administrators, parents and students; it increases child care issues for families; and some weeks, he said, only have two secondary class touch points. Dziatczak said the virtual option will employ Birmingham school teachers whenever possible, but always for core class. “In specialized classes (like art, language), we may have to go through a third party, like Michigan Virtual,” he said. All Michigan schools have to present a virtual option, according to MI Safe Schools: Michigan's 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap created by Governor Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 Task Force on Education Return to School Advisory Council. Earlier, Bloomfield Hills Schools announced it will proceed with five-day a week in-person instruction along with Bloomfield Virtual, the name of their virtual academy. In each district, families have to make a choice for which option they are choosing for the fall semester. As of Tuesday, July 28, 948 families out of 5,000 BPS families have elected into the Virtual Academy for at least one semester. In person instruction is permissible for students and teachers as long as Michigan and the region remains in phase four, according to Whitmer. If there is a reversal to phase three, all instruction will go remote until a return to phase four.