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Don’t get us wrong — COVID-19 has generally made being a teacher or a student or a parent in the K-12 system way harder. But when schools first shut their doors last spring, some educators were also hopeful that the sudden pivot might be a chance to reimagine what school could look like post-pandemic. So, has that happened?

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After a delay, Flint Community Schools will return to in-person learning next week.

The district’s planned return to the classroom was postponed three weeks ago because there were not enough sneeze guards for all the student desks. District officials insist they have enough now.

School Board President Carol MacIntosh insists they want students to learn and go home healthy.

“I would like to be able to look any parent or community member in the face and say ‘Look we went the extra mile because we are serious about our students’ safety,” says MacIntosh.

A sign of the University of Michigan Central Campus
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During the past year, many universities have seen high rates of COVID-19 on or around their campuses. Academic institutions in Michigan and throughout the U.S. have faced challenging questions and criticism with regard to their decision-making in an unprecedented public health crisis. And often, university students and their behaviors — like attending social gatherings or even simply living in group housing — have played a role in spreading the virus at their schools.

It’s Count Day for Michigan’s schools.

But this being 2020, it’s a little different this year.

Twice during the academic year, Michigan schools count the number of students in class. The resulting number determines how much state aid schools receive.

But with many students spending class time at the kitchen table instead of in the classroom, Count Day is going to be different this year. 

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At this point, nearly all Michigan students are back in class for the fall semester, through Zoom meetings, physically distanced instruction, or shepherding from grownups at home. As the COVID-19 pandemic forces teachers and families to navigate a new world of education, Stateside checked in with parents feeling their way through the first days of a back-to-school season unlike any other.

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On Stateside, a church in Romeo grapples with systemic and politically motivated vandalism. And, what six months of COVID have looked like. Plus, we continue a focus on Detroit Month of Design with a conversation with the winner of the Design in the City competition.

MSU

Researchers at Michigan State University have come up with a way to help "distance learners" get more engaged in the classroom.

More and more students are sitting at home using a computer to connect with teachers and their classmates. But many feel disconnected.  

Christine Greenhow is an MSU associate professor of educational psychology and educational technology. She’s been experimenting with using robots to establish connections between students and instructors.