Flint Township View

Swartz Creek, Grand Blanc leaders prepare to launch plans for remote learning

Local school administrators are hoping to hit the ground running when they implement their Continuity of Learning plans Monday.

The plans are required for districts to continue to receive state funding following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order ending all in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Swartz Creek Community Schools, many teachers have continued with remote instruction via online platforms since the first closure order, which was effective March 16.

Still, district officials are attempting to “make up lost ground,” said Superintendent Ben Mainka.

That means getting technology into as many homes as possible and making accommodations for families who do not have access to the internet.

Mainka said the school bond, which voters approved in 2018, allowed the district to invest in Chromebooks for every student. Under the stay-at-home orders, every family has been allowed to check out one Chromebook for per household.

The district also has boosted its internet signal so families can access the internet in the parking lot of the high school.

“It’s a drive-in wi-fi hotspot,” said Mainka.

Administrators are encouraging families without internet to take advantage of free and reduced-cost wireless services available through the various internet providers.

“The resources are out there,” Mainka said.

District officials are working on identifying families who have no way to acquire internet access and getting the materials into their hands so they may continue with pencil-and-paper lessons.

As for graduation plans, there is talk of postponing commencements until a later date in June or July.

“We are hoping we will be able to gather again in groups come July, but we just don’t know,” Mainka said.

The school year will end on schedule, he said. However, district leaders are exploring a possible expansion of summer school, as well as what next year’s calendar will look like.

In Grand Blanc Community Schools, Superintendent Clarence Garner said in a letter to families the district’s curriculum team has been working days, nights, and weekends to deliver a “Continuity of Learning” plan to administrators, the Grand Blanc Board of Education, and the GISD for approval so that our staff and students can proceed.

“Plans will carry us through the next 8 weeks with essentials that students will need to transition back to face-to-face classrooms at the next grade level,” he said. “These plans are customized to level (elementary, middle school, grades 9-11 and grade 12), and will undoubtedly require flexibility as we all learn and grow in this new environment.”

Online courses students were taking before the closure of buildings should be continued. They will be recorded for credit and grades. This only pertains to some high school and a small number of middle school students enrolled in any online course.

The district started with a soft launch this week. Garner reiterated that nothing from the day student left face-to-face classrooms will negatively impact their progression to the next level.

The district made sure all students had a working device, as well as access to internet service, before starting the distance learning plan. Students who still need a device can get one by filling out a form at gbcs.org/gbdevices.