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Detroit Public Schools / Detroit Public Schools

Detroit Federation of Teachers members have given their leadership the go-ahead to strike if the union’s return-to-school safety demands aren’t met.

In a Wednesday evening vote, 91% of participating DFT members voted to authorize a “safety strike” if the Detroit Public Schools Community District doesn’t “implement basic science-based safety protocols before schools reopen during the continuing coronavirus pandemic.”

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Today on Stateside, on Tuesday, Michigan State University announced it was transitioning to remote learning for undergraduates and urged students to stay home. Meanwhile, faculty at the University of Michigan are protesting the university’s decision to continue with in-person classes. Conversations with professors from both universities tell a tale of two schools. Plus, how the pandemic highlights racial inequality in college access.

a protester at the university of michigan holds a sign that says leaders and best should test
Caroline Llanes / Michigan Radio

Some faculty and staff at the University of Michigan are worried about the influx of students returning to campus. Around 40 faculty, staff, and graduate student employees gathered in front of the administration building on Tuesday. It was the first of a planned three days of protests, asking for the administration to let faculty opt out of in-person instruction and demanding a more robust testing infrastructure for COVID-19.

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In a message to the campus community Tuesday, Michigan State University President Dr. Samuel Stanley Jr. asked students planning to live on campus for the fall semester to stay home and continue their education remotely. 

While many of MSU's classes were offered in remote formats, the university will work to transition remaining hybrid or in-person classes online over the next few weeks.

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Today on Stateside, a familiar voice to Michigan Radio listeners has taken the mic on the national stage. A conversation with Jenn White, host of NPR’s 1A, who will host Stateside tomorrow. Plus, what a breakthrough on the state’s Return to Learn bills will mean for schools preparing to start this fall. And, in a continuation of our summer series on systemic racism, how lack of access to capital and intergenerational wealth affects Black Americans.

Dr. Robert E. Anderson in 1973.
UM Bentley Historical Library

Ten former student athletes are suing the University of Michigan for damages related to abuse by the late Dr. Robert Anderson.

One named plaintiff, Mike Robinson, is a former basketball play for U of M and the other nine have chosen to remain anonymous.

 

Michigan House passes “Return to Learn” school package

Aug 17, 2020
students sitting in a classroom in front of whiteboard
Taylor Wilcox / Unsplash

A series of education bills is on its way to Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s desk. On Monday, the Michigan House approved a three-bill package that amends the State School Aid Act to account for virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. They also allow districts to prioritize in-person instruction for grades K-through-5.

The pandemic has altered how schools will do business this fall, and the bills address both in-person and virtual enrollment and attendance.

Detroit Public Schools

The Detroit Federation of Teachers will be voting Wednesday on whether to strike over COVID-19 related health and safety concerns.

The union, which represents 4,200 Detroit Public School employees, wants to start the school year in a completely online format.

 

Legislature, Whitmer reach deal on return-to-school bills

Aug 15, 2020
kids with backpacks on going back to school
WavebreakmediaMicro / Adobe Stock

Michigan schools that deem it safe to provide in-person classes during the coronavirus pandemic would have to prioritize the option for K-5 students under legislation that would also largely base districts’ state funding on last year’s pupil count to account for enrollment uncertainty in coming weeks.

The bills, which will be approved by the Senate in a rare Saturday session, reflect a deal announced late Friday by legislative leaders and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The House will vote Monday.

kids with backpacks on going back to school
WavebreakmediaMicro / Adobe Stock

Physicians throughout the state are asking lawmakers to consider science and research when making decisions about how to proceed with education this fall. 

The Michigan state senate is expected to meet this Saturday to discuss a package of four education bills. House Bills 5910, 5911, 5912, and 5913 were approved by the state house of representatives in July. 

 

student at desk with computer
Aleksandra Suzi / Adobe Stock

Traverse City Area Public Schools will offer in-person instruction for students this fall, but the first two weeks of school will happen online.

The plan, which was approved by the district school board by a vote of 6-to-1 at a virtual meeting Monday night, calls for online instruction to start the fall semester. Then on September 21 students and teachers would resume in-person instruction with added health and safety measures.

School kids eating meals from USDA summer program
United States Department of Agriculture / USDA/wikipedia

The pandemic is putting more families at risk for homelessness as financial pressure builds and eviction moratoriums end. Michigan already has the sixth highest rate of homeless students in the country, and many of those children rely on the consistency of walking into a physical building five days a week. Stateside talked to Jennifer Erb-Downward, a senior research associate with Poverty Solutions at the University of Michigan, about how schools can help students experiencing homelessness, even as classes move online.

Michigan Radio

Today on Stateside, were you planning on socially distanced tailgating this fall? Bad news: the Big Ten has reportedly voted against going forward with the college football season. We talked to sports reporter Chris Solari about what we know so far. Plus, we've got a conversation with an Escanaba teacher about the unique challenges rural schools face when it comes to online instruction this fall.

Cecilia Zaya

The experience of online learning for special education students in Michigan this spring ranged from better results than expected, to what parents describe as an utter disaster.

Courtesy of Owen Bondono

Owen Bondono, Michigan’s newly named Teacher of the Year and a ninth-grade English language arts teacher at Oak Park Freshman Institute, works to create a classroom community in which students feel comfortable sharing their experiences and ideas with eachother. But as a fall semester unlike any other approaches, and some schools lean toward virtual learning to limit the spread of COVID-19, Bondono is having to rethink the way he conducts meaningful class conversations with his students.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Public Schools Community District wants parent input about how their students will be learning in the fall.

DPSCD is offering both fully virtual and face-to-face instruction. District officials say they want a parent feedback survey completed by August 4, though the “drop-dead deadline” for responses is August 21.

J. Kelly Brito / Unsplash

Some school districts have already announced they'll be offering remote instruction only in the fall, over concerns it is not safe for teachers, staff, students or their families to have in-person instruction, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

School district leaders in Michigan say a package of online education bills making its way through the legislature sets requirements that are too rigid.

The bills are in anticipation of many students going to school online this fall because of the coronavirus pandemic.   

One of the bills requires districts to document a 75% average attendance record; otherwise some state funding will be cut. 

Taylor Wilcox / Upsplash

This story was updated on 7/28/20 

The day after President Donald Trump was elected in 2016, Royal Oak Schools was the recipient of unwelcome headlines in the media, after the release of a videotape of middle school students chanting, "Build that wall!"

A couple weeks later, a student placed a noose in a boy's bathroom.

A long table surrounded by red chairs in a school classroom.
BES Photos / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Grand Rapids Public Schools says it plans to have online-only instruction for the first nine weeks of the school year.

Superintendent Leadrianne Roby says the district will follow the state’s guidance and decide whether to return to in-person teaching in October.

teacher pointing at board in front of classroom full of children
Rawpixel.com / Adobe Stock

School districts are rolling out plans for the fall with two main strategies taking form – all online or a hybrid approach that includes some digital learning and some in-person classroom learning. With this information some parents are considering creating learning “pods" with other families. Pulling their kids away from public school options and paying private teachers to come into a home or space and teach just a few kids in person.

girl at a laptop
Annie Spratt / Unsplash

Officials with Ann Arbor Public Schools say it's not safe to return to in-person teaching in the fall.  

Local public health experts say the COVID-19 case rate in Washtenaw County is up markedly over the previous six weeks, and the Ann Arbor-Detroit area is considered medium to high risk for infections.

They also say the impact of University students returning to Ann Arbor in September is a big unknown.

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Some school districts are in the thick of work devising a plan to return students to the classroom for face-to-face instruction in the fall. 

Many of the plans will likely be a hybrid, two days in school, three days online, for example, in order to reduce class sizes and allow for physical distancing.

But the Lansing School District is taking a different approach.  The district will offer online-only instruction starting on August 26th.

School Board President Gabrielle  Lawrence says the coronavirus pandemic is not under control in Michigan.

kids with backpacks on going back to school
WavebreakmediaMicro / Adobe Stock

As we inch closer to the start of the school year, more and more schools are announcing plans about what school could look like this fall. Detroit Public Schools recently approved in-person instruction, a move that was met with criticism. The Ann Arbor teachers’ union has called face-to-face instruction unsafe. As teachers prepare for the upcoming year, many are worried about what they’ll be preparing to face.

a black boy sits writing in a notebook at a table
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After a white police officer killed George Floyd in Minneapolis, protests erupted across the country against police brutality toward Black people in America. In the intervening weeks, a national dialogue has erupted over the many ways American istitutions prop up and proliferate racism against Black people.

This summer, Stateside is conducting a series of conversations on what systemic racism looks like. This week we hear from educators, parents and journalists regarding how systemic racism affects Black children and reinforces white America’s biases against against them.

Adobe Stock Images

Today on Stateside, we spoke with the reporter who broke the story about a Michigan 15-year-old who was sentenced to juvenile detention for missing homework during the coronavirus shutdown. Also, a conversation about addressing disparities in education through connecting with families. Plus, how a Detroit nonprofit founded after the 1967 uprisings is pushing for change today.

school hallway
Detroit Public Schools / Detroit Public Schools

Michigan’s largest school district has approved a re-opening plan that includes in-person learning.

The Detroit Public Schools Community District board voted for the plan Tuesday night. It calls for schools to make a number of adaptations to manage the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti
Detroit Public Schools Community District

Hundreds of Detroit students started in-person summer school programs in Detroit Public Schools Community District buildings on Monday, in the face of some public opposition.

A small group of protesters blocked the exit to a school bus depot on the city’s west side, preventing the buses from picking up more than 200 enrolled students, said DPSCD Superintendent Nikolai Vitti.

Illustration of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Today on Stateside, summer school started for students in Detroit. We check in with the superintendent of schools in the city to find out how summer instruction will work, as well as the district’s plans for the fall. Also, a parent reflects on how systemic racism in the U.S. demands that Black children grow up far too fast. Plus, the COVID-19 virus image as an artifact of design.

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