Remote schedule change due to community backlash

Erin Astfalk '21, Staff Writer

During the most recent Board of Education meeting on Monday, Nov. 9, Board members confirmed the originally-proposed schedule change to seven hours of synchronous class is postponed until further notice.
According to special education teacher and mother Amy Miller, the board received backlash when the new schedule was announced due to the abruptness of the change.
“I feel the reason a lot of parents and students were so upset with it was because it is a huge jump to have kids be online for half a day, to all of a sudden logging on an hour earlier and waiting four extra hours to log off,” Miller said.
Many students and parents were shocked when the school board released the new whole day plan, feeling that the traditional normal full day schedule can not work if students are relying on technology, according to North Mia Cassar ’21.
“Let’s not focus on trying to replicate the face-to-face schedule, but come up with one that supports all students academically and emotionally,” Cassar said.
The idea that students can effectively learn and be focused behind a computer screen for seven hours a day is simply unrealistic, according to Miller.
“It’s such a hard situation because you can argue that half days aren’t enough time for instruction,” Miller said. “But sitting at a confined desk staring into a screen for so long can often have negative effects.”
The new proposed schedule also did not take into consideration students who have challenging circumstances, according to Miller.
“As someone who works with special education students, even the highest-functioning students with learning disabilities just cannot stay focused,” Miller said. “Plus students who have a chaotic home or limited access to WiFi also may find the seven-hour day challenging.”
According to district superintendent Gary Niehaus, the current half-day schedule is significantly affecting students’ grades and motivation in school.
“The district saw a 400 percent increase in failing grades when compared to grade reports from this time last year,” Niehaus said.
As the district works in every way possible to improve both the One GP Virtual and GP Traditional pathways, students and parents must make the decision of choosing a learning path for the second semester, according to Niehaus.
“We now have reservations for the second semester for Michigan Virtual,” Niehaus said. “Allowing more rigorous courses and opportunities for the one GP virtual option.”
A major issue with the schedule change was that many students felt their voices were not heard in the decision-making process, according to Cassar.
“Everyone I have spoken to since the shocking news has been willing to offer suggestions and support on coming up with an effective schedule,” Cassar said.
According to Miller, with the current unpredictable circumstances, it is clear students need support and encouragement when it comes to not only education, but mental health as well.
“During all this chaos, it is comforting to see the brave students of Grosse Pointe advocate for their education and peers,” Miller said. “As teachers and kids alike struggle, it is important to voice your opinion for the well being of everyone.”