Hybrid learning timeline pushed back once again


Courtesy of Ann Arbor Public Schools

In the tentative plan announced April 14. More information will be communicated.

Ridhima L. Kodali, Opinion Editor

Today, April 15,  Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced that there will be an adjustment to the hybrid learning timeline due to the rapid and significant rise in the amount of COVID-19 cases in Washtenaw County. 

The tentative hybrid learning timeline is as follows: 

Students in self contained classrooms  and Preschool through third grade may continue in-school hybrid learning.  Grades 4-12 will return to school on May 3.

“ I know it’s not what folks want to hear, but as the case levels continue to increase, it is possible that we could have outbreaks, we could have a situation where a classroom, a grade level, a school could temporarily close,” Swift said at the April 14 board meeting.

In accordance with the Washtenaw County Health Department and other health experts, they  will continue to monitor COVID-19 case numbers.    

Michigan contributes over 10 percent of the nation’s daily new cases. Currently at 426.6 cases per million, Washtenaw County is in Level E — the highest risk category. Pushing back school openings aligns with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s recommendation to pause in person school due to rising case numbers.

Additionally,  Swift said there are more contagious variants among younger individuals, including those between the ages of 10-17. 

According to the CDC guidance for public schools, schools experiencing “rapid or persistent rises” in COVID-19 rates or healthcare capacity burden may close temporarily or not even reopen at all — at least until levels of community transmissions are stabilized. 

“We will continue the spring reopening of school buildings with the caution this situation demands,” Swift wrote.

Optional standardized testing is still slated to occur during the week of April 26, and more information will be communicated soon. 

“We will continue to hold the health and safety of our students and staff, families and community as our top priority in all the decisions we make, as we worked to do throughout this COVID pandemic,” Swift said. “This priority of health and safety will not change.” 

After the presentation given by Swift, last night, the board opened discussion. 

“I think it should all be closed,  I think that we should close sports, I think that we should close all of K-12,” Trustee Ernesto Querijero said. “And I think we should put the safety of our community first. I can’t think of another place in the civilized world that is wrestling with COVID more than here in the state of Michigan.”

Discussion lasted approximately an hour and the board did decide to push back school reopening for grades 4-12. 

“I don’t understand how to stop a moving train,”  Trustee Krystle Dupree said. “We’ve already started to phase, it would kind of be disruptive to some households, especially when you plan work days around this.”

Swift encourages students and families to get tested regularly. AAPS is offering free COVID-19 testing from 12-6 p.m. on Sunday, April 18 at Pioneer High School. Registration is encouraged, but not required. Results for the rapid antigen test will be available between 30 and 60 minutes after the lower nasal swab.