KALAMAZOO, Mich. — A West Michigan school district that's been virtual all year will be offering some in-person learning starting next fall.
It has been a year and a half since Kalamazoo Public School students have been back to a school building for in-person learning.
Next school year, in-person learning will be the default with an option for families to have their kids learn virtually if they wish.
"Next school year will still not look exactly like school did when students left school in March of 2020," said Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri.
With the world still in the middle of a pandemic, Kalamazoo Public Schools wanted to give parents the option on how they want their kids to learn for the 2021-2022 school year.
The current plan was announced by Dr. Raichoudhuri in a town hall on Wednesday.
"Parents have two choices for next school year. Fully in-person, five days a week in a brick and mortar school building or a fully virtual option," said Dr. Raichoudhuri.
The in-person option is the district's default. If parents would like their students to learn virtually, they must opt-in my May 6.
Dr. Raichoudhuri said all schools will require masks for all grades at all times except lunch. Students and staff will social distance if possible and encourage hygiene practices like hand washing.
A parent checklist and health form will also be provided.
"We are relying on our parents and guardians to keep our students, employees and community members safe. This checklist along with the commitment form will be provided to all parents who intend to send their students to school in-person next year," said Dr. Raichoudhuri.
For virtual learners, the day will be comprised of learning in scheduled classes with teachers and peers, referred to as synchronous. There will also be asynchronous learning which are lessons for students at home to handle on their own time.
Parents and guardians should expect to have some level of involvement if their student is a virtual learner.
"Have your child do the same thing everyday at the same time. This type of structure has shown to develop good study habits and academic achievement," said Dr. Raichoudhuri.
This is what an average day will look for a K through 3rd grade student:
This is what an average day will look for a 4th or 5th grade student:
This is what an average day will look for a 6th through 12th grade student:
Kalamazoo Public Schools said they do not plan to stop offering in-person learning next fall unless instructed by the state.
They also have set up contingency plans for intermittent closures if need be.
"Our families will be playing a big role in not only keeping our KPS family of staff and students safe but also our larger community safe. If your child is showing symptoms, please don’t send them to school," said Dr. Raichoudhuri.
Kalamazoo Public Schools said they will also follow state and federal guidelines on vaccine requirements. As of now, the district is not requiring anyone to be vaccinated, although they said most of their staff has been. The district will also be setting up clinics for students `16 and up.
The school district is scheduled to release its final plans for the upcoming school year in its virtual board meeting on Thursday at 7 p.m.
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