Ann Arbor Public Schools anticipates fully virtual start to school year

AAPS students will have three enrollment options

. (Image by StartupStockPhotos from Pixabay)

ANN ARBOR – Ann Arbor Public School students can anticipate returning to school virtually at the end of August.

In a July 22 study session meeting, officials from Ann Arbor Public Schools discussed plans for a remote-learning start to the next academic year.

Ann Arbor Public School superintendent Jeanice Swift acknowledged how officials are “hardwired” for safety and that they must put student safety first.

“At this time, the science and our current data do not support the safe return of all students to an in-person learning environment in our school buildings in the Ann Arbor Public Schools for our fall start of 20-21, so we will be on a virtual learning status as we open school this fall,” Swift said.

She added that the week of Aug. 31 will be designated for preparation and the on-boarding of students and families. Virtual classes are anticipated to be in-session by Sept. 8.

During the meeting, officials presented the 2020-21 Reimagine Learning Plan, which includes three different enrollment options that the district intends to offer students.

A formal decision was made by the Ann Arbor Public School Board of Education on Wednesday, July 29.

Through the Reimagine Learning Plan, AAPS parents can enroll their students in either the A2 All Access, A2 Classroom Connect and A2 Virtual + Academy programs.

A2 All Access

Available to all AAPS students, the fully online program has students attend classroom-paced online courses with AAPS teachers and students from around the district. Students in this program would remain online all year even as the schools experience reopening phases.

A2 Classroom Connect

Available to all AAPS students, this program has students participate in both online and in-person sessions with teachers at their neighborhood schools. As the district progresses through reopening phases, students can choose to either remain online or attended in-person sessions during specified schedules.

A2 Virtual + Academy

Only available for grades 6-12, students in this program would work at their own pace through individualized courses supported by an A2 Virtual Academy teacher who will provide feedback and will be available during office hours.

To make sure that all students can participate in the virtual courses and use the Schoology app, AAPS intends to give all students devices and support internet services as needed.

The 2020-21 Reimagine Learning Plan tackles student needs through the lens of equity and opportunity, social justice and anti-racism through student engagement, access to learning, rigor and relevance, support and connection and social emotional well-being.

The school day will be broken down into learning blocks and attendance will be mandatory whether or not classes are online or in-person.

Like what you’re reading? Sign up for our email newsletter here!

Students in need of additional support and services, including English language support and academic or social/emotional interventions, will have access to scheduled sessions within classroom environments or in small groups.

Swift said that when data supports a safe return to schools, the AAPS will implement a phased approach to in-person school.

During the meeting, officials looked at the rationale for their plans and presented the health data behind their decisions.

If and when they can begin reopening phasing, students will have alternating in-person and online schedules. In addition to physical distancing classrooms, students will be “cohorted” to reduce exposure to peers outside of their cohort, according to the Reimagine Learning Plan. AAPS will require masks, follow social distancing protocols and encourage hand washing.

Officials will present more information about what safety protocols and modifications might look like during the July 29 meeting.

A video of the Wednesday meeting can be found online through CTN.


Here’s what Michigan school districts have planned for the fall amid the pandemic

‘We do not feel safe:’ Ann Arbor teachers voice concerns for in-person school

About the Author:

Sarah has worked for WDIV since June 2018. She covers community events, good eats and small businesses in Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from Grand Valley State University.