Schools Closed; Now What?
At first what appeared to be a blip in the school year, a short recess that would postpone the tournament season and deliver a jump start on spring break began to loom larger as the COVID-19 crisis lengthened.
Soon bars and restaurants closed or moved to take out only, business began shutting down or providing limited services and trips to the grocery store took on a whole new meaning.
The timeline for a return to school was pushed out a bit more, and then a bit more and then…
And then reality set in for teachers and other staff, administrators, students, parents and guardians,and so many others throughout the community.
School was not postponed. It was done. Over. No one would be returning to the buildings this school year because this school year had come to an end.
After the Governor made it official Thursday and school systems were given notice to develop a plan.
We contacted our local supes to get a little info on what these plans might look like.
The first is from Grant Superintendent Brett Zuver who was interviewed by N3 editor Alexis Mercer.
What has been done up to this point to prepare for distance learning at Grant Public Schools?
I have been meeting for a week and a half with administration, directors, and teachers. We are coming up with a plan for what we feel like would be best for our students. We know every family has different issues with accessibility so we are trying to be as proactive as possible. Making sure everyone has access to signal is tough. The plan isn't done yet, but it will be a combination of paper/pencil and online for those who can do it. We are working hard to make sure we can take care of every student regardless of obstacles that may be in the way.
What do you foresee as the most difficult challenges moving forward?
Spring break was supposed to be next week and after that we have 6 weeks left of instruction. Above and beyond the academic end, we care about our students as human beings. We want to make sure they are fed and in a good place mentally. It is hard to be away from your friends and a routine. A lot of adults are struggling with that, let alone students. We want to make sure basic needs are being met.
Specifically for the seniors what is being looked at?
Seniors. This is so hard for them. Extracurricular activities, fine arts, sports, spring things - they are missing out on all of that. One thing we are committed to doing is having a graduation ceremony at some point. Maybe in July or August depending on how long this lasts. But our seniors and their families deserve to get together one last time and celebrate their accomplishments. This won't be held on the originally scheduled day but sometime in the summer. We will know more as days go by.
How have your teachers and staff responded to the situation?
The teachers and staff have been unbelievably incredible. Everyone rallied right away for the food distribution program volunteering. Many teachers, before distance learning was required, have been having zoom meetings, making phone calls, writing letters, dropping things in the mail to students - all just because that's who they are and they love their students that much.
What has the county collaboration looked like (with other Superintendents and NCRESA)?
We have been meeting as county superintendents virtually since prior to the first day of dismissal trying to get our ducks in a row. NCRESA has been very helpful to make sure we are at least similar in our thought process. We don't want to be polar opposite. Each district's plan will be different because each district has areas that have different capabilities as far as devices, internet, all of that. But NCRESA has done a wonderful job trying to help us have a common vision. The executive order states that the RESA has to approve our plan, so we've been working with them collaboratively.
Do you have any words of wisdom to share with the Grant Public School community?
It's always tough any time there is a routine change or health scare like this. There are a lot of unknowns and people get nervous, understandably so. That being said, everybody is really pitching in community wise and school wise both to make this the best possible experience for everyone. Student and staff safety is always our first priority, this is just something different than what we have looked at before. I have 100% confidence we will come out ok in the end. Everybody misses seeing each other. We can't wait to see everyone back safe and healthy again.
I also want to emphasize the amount of compassion and service mindedness that has been shown by so many individuals in the community, especially in the food programs and reaching out to help with anything at all. Any way they can help, people and businesses in Newaygo County have been incredible. Fremont Area Community Foundation has reached out numerous times. Really there are too many businesses, individuals and groups to even count who have offered help. This has been so reassuring to me, to our families, to our staff members and students. They all care and want the best for all of us.
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