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Rockford Board of Education approves remote start for upcoming school year

Posted at 10:23 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 22:23:34-04

ROCKFORD, Mich. — The Rockford Board of Education approved the district’s return-to-learn plan at its monthly meeting Monday.

The decision was unanimous.

It provides families with two options, face-to-face instruction after a three week remote start or virtual learning.

“It concerns me that we are putting the needs of others before our children,” said one parent who spoke via Zoom.

The first choice is drawing criticism from many parents after the district indicated this summer students could chose to be in class from day one.

“I am concerned that this is just a tipping point to then go into being fully online, which is really detrimental to our children's education,” said another.

“We were told three weeks in March. It turned out to be the entire school year, and that was probably the worst experience my kids have had,” said one mom.

“Let us the parents make the best decision for our children.”

However, of the 15 people who spoke during the public comment period, three agreed with the choice.

“I am glad that safety is being prioritized in the same way, it is when snow days are called,” said a Rockford music teach. “Online instruction will reduce community spread of the virus and provide a consistent learning environment.”

The district says they’ve received 200-300 emails from parents the last few days echoing similar responses.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Shibler cited Governor Whitmer’s recent extension o the state of emergency and an apparent rise in the number of coronavirus cases in Michigan as the reasons for the district’s shift.

The state’s coronavirus dashboard shows daily cases hovering between 500-800 cases per day since July after they hit a low in mid-June. However, current cases are still below the number of cases seen at the beginning of the pandemic.

“It’s an evolving virus that changes and goes different directions,” said Shibler. “We’ve got to make sure our recommendation, our implementation of our plan is one that protects teachers and staff and is also effective in learning.”

Under the remote start, students would receive real-time instruction from their teachers. They would be required to follow a daily schedule which includes small group and individual interaction.

Face-to-face learning is slated to start September 14th.

Students would also be required to wear a face mask. Some other changes include assigned seats on busses and eating lunch in the classroom.

To read their full plan, click here.