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Urgent News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

March 27, 2020

Dear Parents,

It is hard to believe that we have now finished our second week of not being in school. While we have experienced school closure during winter months, this time has just been surreal. We all have questions regarding what the next steps are and how this will impact our kids and community moving forward. These are all real feelings, and our staff is actively working to provide as many answers as possible during this unique time in our lives. 

I am sure some of you may have heard of Governor Whitmer’s comment to the Detroit Free Press today that returning to school this year is ‘very unlikely’. We are waiting for more clarity around this comment, and we expect her to provide more details next week. Shutting school down for the year prompts so many details to be addressed; on-line instruction, make-up days/time, and grade level requirements and graduation, just to name a few. We plan on having more information and communication with all of you in regards to the impact closing schools will have, if such a formal executive order is issued.

We are excited and optimistic as we enter into some new learning opportunities with our students utilizing Google Classroom next week as mentioned in my Tuesday communication. Hopefully, your child(ren) have all received invitations to join their teachers in Google Classrooms as this will become the platform we use to share instructional opportunities moving forward.  If you are unfamiliar with Google Classroom, you are welcome to learn more about Google Classroom here.  

Our staff has been engaged in virtual professional development over the past three days to prepare for this type of learning with our students. We are so impressed with the positivity and enthusiasm for this work by our staff as it is so new to all of us. Part of our passion for this work is ensuring access and equity for all of our over 7,000 students. We are well aware that we have some families that are in need of a device and/or connection to the internet. We are working with our technology department and building leaders to identify and supply these devices as soon as possible. In some cases, it might take a couple of weeks to get these in the hands of our students, but please know that these students will not be falling behind in regard to receiving instructional content from their teachers. Thank you in advance for your patience as we identify where the greatest need is in our district.

You will find On-line Maximum Daily Instructional Minutes here for each content area and across all grade spans. The purpose of setting these parameters is to work to ensure we are not overwhelming our families, our students, and our staff (as some of our staff are attempting to educate well over 100 kids). We fully recognize the challenges our families are facing with working from home while also trying to support learning. Our hope is that this will streamline communication, directly from teacher to students and parents, via Google Classroom, and provide daily, small chunks of learning for students to engage with to maintain their progress. For parents of students that receive Special Education services, please see this communication from Mandy Thomas, Director of Special Services. We continue to be so appreciative of your patience and grace as we navigate this new platform and way of engaging with your child(ren) during this unprecedented time.  

Finally, we really appreciate your support in regards to our Stay Home - Stay Safe environment. We all need to do our part to help ‘flatten the curve’. We ask that you refrain from congregating/using our playgrounds or athletic facilities, as these are not being sanitized. We have been contacted by our local authorities and they are doing their best to monitor these locations, but we really could use your assistance. Please stay home, so we can get back to normal activities as soon as possible.

Be well,

Dr. VanderJagt
Superintendent of Schools                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Keep Explanations Age Appropriate

  • Early elementary school children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”
  • Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
  • Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.

Suggested Points to Emphasize When Talking to Children

  • Adults at home and school are taking care of your health and safety. If you have concerns, please talk to an adult you trust.
  • Not everyone will get the coronavirus (COVID-19) disease. School and health officials are being especially careful to make sure as few people as possible get sick.
  • It is important that all students treat each other with respect and not jump to conclusions about who may or may not have COVID-19.

There are things you can do to stay health and avoid spreading the disease:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze into your elbow or a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Wash hands often with soap and water (20 seconds).
  • If you don’t have soap, use hand sanitizer (60–95% alcohol based).
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Dr. Doug VanderJagt

[email protected] Superintendent, District

Our HPS staff is here to help your child(ren).hand heart

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Additional resources

Provided by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

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