The arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine has allowed more safety within communities around the world. For Ann Arbor Public Schools, the vaccine represents a step towards in-person learning.
On Jan. 13, AAPS Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced the district is prioritizing a transition to hybrid learning with in-person schooling for certain students planning to begin as early as March with specific dates to be announced at least two weeks before the anticipated start of in-person learning. The learning plan will split students into “A” and “B” cohorts where students will either attend school in-person on Mondays and Tuesdays or Thursdays and Fridays. Wednesdays will continue to be asynchronous.
Families have the option to choose the avenue of learning for their child.
“We understand that without a vaccine yet available for children, many parents will continue to have concerns about an in-school learning option,” Swift said in her superintendent message. “During the remainder of this 20-21 school year, we will provide families with a choice to continue with virtual learning remotely.”
Before this transition can happen, Swift said the timeline is subject to AAPS teachers and staff’s progress of being vaccinated. School personnel are categorized in Phase 1B of the vaccination process. With a limited number of vaccines provided to the Washtenaw County Health Department, the process for teachers to receive the vaccine could be prolonged. All plans are subject to change as AAPS prioritizes the safety of staff and students. AAPS is encouraging teachers to get the vaccine if they can do so from another trusted source and will be hosting informational sessions for AAPS staff to learn more about the vaccination process.
Step one of the return to school plan will include students in grades Pre-Kindergarten, Young Fives, Kindergarten, students with high-level specialized learning needs, small groups of middle school and high school students most in need of learning support will be the first to return.
Step two will occur one week after step one and will include first and second grade students for the in-person hybrid model.
The third step will be one week after step two and will include third through fifth grade students who choose the in-person hybrid model.
Step four is set to begin after spring break and will include the transition to in-person school for middle and high school students. More information for how each grade level will be transitioning will be shared in February.
This announcement comes five days after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced her plan to reopen schools by March 1.
“Clearly we are not yet out of this COVID time, yet there are signs of progress on the horizon,” Swift said. “I am confident that we will continue to work together to uphold the AAPS priority of the health and safety of our students, staff, families and community while also achieving our shared priority of a safe and responsible transition to a hybrid in-school opportunity for those families who choose this option.”
This story will be updated as more information is released. Last updated on Jan. 13, 2o21.