Kalamazoo Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Rita Raichoudhuri announced at the Oct. 22 Board of Education meeting that KPS students will remain learning remotely for the second trimester.
The district’s Smart and Safe Start Plan provides three options for families. Option 1 is a three-tiered model with phased re-entry into hybrid and then fully in-person learning. Option 2A and 2B are year-long virtual models.
About 80 percent of KPS students are enrolled in the Option 1/three-tiered plan. This model calls for students to begin the year fully remote, with instruction being provided by KPS teachers. If it was safe to do so, in-person instruction would have started for the second trimester on Nov. 30 using a hybrid model where the students were divided into two groups, attending either Monday/Tuesday or Thursday/Friday, while spending the remaining three days of the school week participating in independent learning at home.
“To ensure that we were methodical about our decision around transitioning to Trimester 2, we created a weighted formula that prioritized safety above all else,” Raichoudhuri said. “We surveyed parents and employees and reviewed research and health department data. The results of the formula indicated that in all categories, the recommendation was to stay in remote learning for the health and safety of our staff and students.
“As I did with the decision in August to have all students start the year in remote learning, I made this decision for Trimester 2 with an eye toward safety first. I know this will not please all families and that learning at home can be very difficult. KPS is committed to making the remote learning experience the best it can be and to providing additional support to our most vulnerable students. We will be seeking input on how to make remote learning even better in Trimester 2.”
Students in Option 2A will receive a survey on Friday, Oct. 23, asking if they would like to remain in 2A or transfer to Option 1. The Smart and Safe Start Plan allowed 2A students to transfer to Option 1 at the end of the first trimester — if the district moved to hybrid instruction.
Although that is not happening, Raichoudhuri said, “We are committed to being flexible to support our students. Even though we are remaining remote, there are some potential opportunities for students to move to Option 1 if there is room in Option 1 classes, as defined by contractual class-size limits. We will prioritize movement for students with special needs and English language learners.”
The final day of school for Trimester 1 is Monday, Nov. 23. There is no school Nov. 24-27. Trimester 2 begins on Monday, Nov. 30. Depending on the state of the pandemic, the Option 1/three-tiered plan allows for the possibility of students returning to school full-time, five days a week for the third trimester, which begins March 15. Raichoudhuri has pledged to seek stakeholder input about the third trimester — just as she has done throughout the planning process for the 2020-21 school year.