Facts, figures and feelings

Full-time F2F proposal sparks community discussion

Eleni Tecos '22, Supervising Editor

Following the request for a five days a week, face-to-face learning plan by school board president Joseph Herd, the administration constructed a gradual return plan, beginning with elementary students on March 1 and grades 5-12 on March 15. Upon the proposed return, regular schedules would resume with a goal of three feet of social distancing between staff and students when possible, and multiple lunch shifts at the secondary level in order to reduce maskless contact between students.
In addition to the full-time face-to-face plan, the administration introduced the GPPSS COVID Dashboard, which is based on CDC core indicators and COVID-19 data from Grosse Pointe and Harper Woods, per the COVID Dashboard slideshow. According to Deputy Superintendent Dr. Michael Jon Dean, the COVID Dashboard was created after the administration found errors within the Wayne County COVID-19 data.
“The Wayne County Dashboard has computational errors, as well as structural errors,” Dean said. “(Even though) we have talked to the Wayne County Health Department about those errors, they haven’t fixed (them), so it doesn’t make any sense (to use their data).”
With the transition to the GPPSS COVID Dashboard, research and development employee at Kemin Industries Dr. Geoff Horst has played a large role in performing calculations on the COVID-19 data collected. Horst received his PhD from Michigan State University with a dual degree in Wildlife and Fisheries / Ecology, Evolutionary Biology and Behavior in 2012.
As for how prepared he believes the District is to return with the proposed plan, Horst said actively working to reduce exposure is the most important objective.
“There could be moderate to high levels of COVID in the community, but if the District is doing a good job trying to mitigate that spread in schools, then you should have a safe scenario,” Horst said. “If you have a horrible risk mitigation strategy, then that’s not necessarily going to be safe, even if there aren’t that many (COVID-19) cases in the community.”
Despite this, many community members, including GPEA president Chris Pratt, are surprised by the quick turnaround from hybrid to full-time, as high school teachers have only just begun hybrid teaching.
“Teachers are disappointed,” Pratt said. “They feel somewhat blindsided by this request from the school board president and the presentation that was released by Dr. Dean on Friday. (The lack of) collaboration with teachers who are clearly in the classroom, delivering instruction and working with kids (is upsetting). They should be a part of this conversation.”
According to Pratt, not only do the teachers feel excluded from the development of COVID-safe return plans, but other members of the GPEA do as well.
“I wish the District would collaborate,” Pratt said. “I wish they would seek out the Association. Not only the Teachers’ Association, but also the secretaries, the paraprofessionals, the plant unions. We’ve been asking what the plan is for months, we’ve been asking to be a part of these discussions of formulating a plan… the GPEA wants to be a part of this conversation.”
With the introduction of the administration’s full-time face-to-face plan, many community members are divided on their level of comfort with students returning to school full-time. Kate Skupien ’21, believes students should return to school full-time according to the administration’s new plan.