CADILLAC — With the current school year nearing its completion and summer about to begin, Cadillac Area Public Schools is already gearing up for next fall.
While that is true every year, the end of the current year and the start of the new year is taking on added importance amid the COVID-19 pandemic. CAPS Superintendent Jennifer Brown wants the community to know the district's No. 1 priority when it comes to going back to school is welcoming students back for face-to-face learning in a safe environment.
To help achieve that goal, the district has formed a committee of district staff, strategic partners, and parents to help plan and implement a safe, efficient, and equitable return to school that also is flexible for CAPS families. The committee which includes parents, district administration, teachers, support staff, the health department, and others from the medical community is comprised of more than 60 members who are split into six subcommittees.
The subcommittees include wellness, instruction, operations, technology, facilities, and governance which includes things like how the district operates, it's policies, and procedures. Brown said whatever this plan becomes the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as District Health Department No. 10 guidelines, will be followed.
With the opening of CAPS Clubhouse earlier this week, Brown said CDC protocols are in place. They include temperature screening, personal protection equipment for staff, parent drop off protocols, and nightly disinfecting. These all likely will be used when schools reopen in the fall.
She also said the district will formulate plans to help parents understand when it is OK to send their children to school if they are feeling sick or if they should keep them home. While that is not complete, Brown said it is likely going to be different than in the past.
"We feel responsible to plan for next year so we are prepared to meet the needs of students, whatever they are. We are listening to the state and any guidance they provide through committees and state statutes and law," Brown said. "We will embed that within our plan and we have always listened to the recommendations of the CDC. Whatever plans we have will follow the CDC guidelines."
She also said the district will be ready in the fall to provide three learning options for families and students to utilize — face-to-face, blended and at-home.
Whether a family has some sort of underlying health concern, the district is forced to close again or the family doesn't feel comfortable sending a child to school because of COVID-19, Brown said they will have viable virtual learning options for them. This will include access to staff, technology, and potential connectivity.
If there is a need for a blend for both face-to-face and virtual learning, Brown said there will be viable learning options for them. Again, this will include access to staff, technology, and potential connectivity. She also said if the need for at-home learning arises, the district will be better prepared to provide it and it will look much different than what is currently being offered.
"The No. 1 thing I want parents to hear is we are committed to providing flexibility and will use our own teachers and supports to do it," she said. "Our staff knows our kids and those relationships are important. That is why we are prioritizing offering those three options. We want our Cadillac teachers to serve our Cadillac kids."