Back to School Events begin Next Week!

Summer always flies by far too quickly and here we are at the threshold of a new year! We will be welcoming staff and families back for orientations and open houses where we will introduce new plans for responding to the impacts of the pandemic on our students’ learning and forging our way forward to engage and inspire our students.

We will have Open Houses next Wednesday. They will be staggered to accommodate our families who have students in multiple buildings.  Fuller Street will be open from 4-5:30 pm, Maplewood from 5-6:30 pm and the Jr./Sr. HS from 6-7:30 with some additional time for our 7th graders from 7:15- 7:45 in the auditorium.

Our office and administrative staff returned this week and information is beginning to flow out to our families. Our schedule redesign wrapped up this summer and those schedules for the Jr./Sr. HS are now available through our PowerSchool System.  If your student is needing to ride our buses, please contact the bus garage to ensure you are on the route. There are several bridge projects happening in our district and that may impact our routes. Please plan ahead as the bus garage requires 3 days of planning if anyone requests transportation to adjust routes accordingly.

Our Junior and Senior High School are imposing a building wide change to our phone use policy. We wanted to get this information out as many ways as we can.  Our goal in restricting student phones to their lockers is straightforward. Students have become increasingly socially disconnected over the course of the past couple of years. Our goal is to create more interactive socialization with our students during class time, pass time and lunch time. We also want to lower the amount of screen time students are experiencing. There was a time when phones could be useful learning tools, but as a one to one district for devices now, we will be working exclusively through our Chromebooks when needed in classes. Phones are simply an unnecessary distraction from the learning process. Surrounding districts have also limited access to phone time during the school day and experienced improvements in on task time, less bullying, and disruptive behaviors with minimized phone use.  We do know that phones provide a convenient and rapid connection between students and families. We also know families like the security that comes with that access. We believe strongly that the goals of improved class engagement, better socialization with peers, and reduced screen time are so important that we need to set this limit.  The need for emergency and routine communication can continue through our offices as has been normal practice for years. Use of email to students through their school account is another communication that can be utilized if there is an urgent need to contact students. I want to reassure families that we have plans in place should the unthinkable happen and there be some violent act against any of our schools. We have many mechanisms of communication available to us through robocalls, emails and first responder channels. We spent time this summer and continue to examine and improve our plans for notification, reunification and clear communication to our families should there be a security risk. We use and routinely practice with a system that automatically summons first responders and 911 calls in case of an emergency. We sadly have learned many lessons from incidents in other schools and continue to work closely with our law partners in Barry and Eaton counties to keep our plans at the ready. We work to be ready for the worst and plan to maximize student time to learn and have fun in school.  We appreciate our families’ support to increase student engagement and peer interactions.

Please reach out to our school offices if there is information you need to get our students off to an excellent year of learning.

Dr. B