West Bloomfield schools shift to online, hybrid learning for the fall

West Bloomfield School District announces fall reopening plans amid the coronavirus pandemic

(Wavebreakmedia, iStock)

WEST BLOOMFIELD, Mich. – The West Bloomfield School District announced Thursday its plans for reopening K-12 schools in the fall amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The district’s superintendent, Dr. Gerald Hill, said Thursday that they are recommending all West Bloomfield High School students participate in a virtual learning program in the fall while the region is in Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan.

“While we all would like to return to school normally in the fall, our district leaders prioritize the health and safety of our students and staff,” Hill said in an announcement. “Consequently, until we reach Phase 5 as a state/region, it is not feasible to return to a fully face-to-face instructional model.”

Officials say the high school’s large size and population would make it nearly impossible to “effectively mitigate” the risk of COVID-19 to staff and students. The district believes the high school would likely see intermittent closures and quarantine periods if it reopened to in-person learning, which could be disruptive.

Elementary and middle school students, however, will engage in a blended-learning model in the fall while in Phase 4.

Students will be broken up into cohorts that alternate mornings and afternoons of in-person instruction and remote learning. Half of the cohorts will engage in in-person learning in the mornings and the other cohorts will do so in the afternoons on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday.

All students will have remote learning on Wednesdays so that the schools can be disinfected.

Officials say cohorts will be comprised of about 15 students in elementary schools and about 18 students in middle schools.

If the region advances into Phase 5 of Michigan’s MI Safe Start Plan, full-time in-person learning will resume for all staff and students, officials said. If the region moves backward into phases 1-3, all instruction will be carried out online.

School districts have been required to develop reopening plans following state guidelines to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in academic spaces. Michigan Gov. Whitmer’s Return to School Roadmap requires all school districts to develop learning plans for the six coronavirus phases identified under the MI Safe Start Plan.

Most of the state is currently in “Phase 4″ of the plan, meaning that in-person instruction will be allowed but with a number of restrictions in place to ensure safety. Regions experiencing phases 1-3 of the plan cannot offer in-person learning at all. Regions experiencing phases 5-6 can also offer traditional in-person learning with fewer protocols in place.

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

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About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.