On Wednesday, Jan. 13, Ann Arbor Public Schools Superintendent Jeanice Swift announced that the district will offer hybrid in-person school learning for its families starting in early March.
The hybrid learning is optional, so those students who want to stay in full-virtual learning may choose to do so. Both learning models will include some virtual learning provided by AAPS teachers.
In a statement to families and the larger community, Swift said she anticipates the transition to in-person learning will be difficult. “Ten months in, this historic COVID crisis continues to evolve rapidly; our work to coordinate the effort to safely transition students and staff to hybrid in-school learning is among the greatest challenges the AAPS, and all school districts, will ever face,” she said.
The transition will consist of four stages for those who opt for the hybrid model:
Stage 1 will transition pre-kindergarten, and K-5 students, students with high-level specialized learning needs (self-contained classrooms) at all levels, and small groups of middle and high school students most in need of in-school learning support.
The following stages will occur at one-week intervals that will depend on the progress of the school personnel vaccination process and ongoing monitoring of district and community COVID infection numbers.
Stage 2 will include 1st and 2nd- grade students.
Stage 3 will include 3rd through 5th grade students.
Stage 4 will include middle and high school students.
The hybrid learning plan involves assigning students to an A or B group who will rotate turns in attending in-person school two days per week on Monday and Tuesday or Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will remain a virtual, asynchronous day for all students.
As an example, students in group A may attend in-person school on Monday and Tuesday while group B students attend virtual instruction on those days. On Thursday and Friday, group B students would then attend in-person school while group A stays at home for virtual instruction.
The district is working with a Washtenaw County Health Department team who will coordinate the community vaccination effort. The vaccination process is anticipated to start in the early future and will prioritize school personnel. Specific dates on when vaccinations will begin have not been announced.
Superintendent Swift’s announcement comes after Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer urged schools to start reopening by March 1.
Swift noted in her public statement that the return-to-school plans are subject to change due to teacher vaccination rates, community spread, and “other emergent issues” that could affect the timeline.
“We will emerge on the other side of this pandemic as a stronger, more connected, Ann Arbor community,” she said.