ANN ARBOR, MI – A partnership between Ann Arbor Public Schools and Michigan Medicine to promptly vaccinate teachers and staff will be a factor in the district’s recommendation to return students to the classroom, authorities said.
AAPS Superintendent Jeanice Swift and the district’s school board announced the partnership with the health system on Tuesday, February 23, the day before the school board meets to discuss plans for students to return to learning in person.
District officials noted that significant progress has been made in recent days in their efforts to achieve rapid tests for COVID-19 and ensure staff have access to vaccines, with “major events” taking place this weekend. .
The Washtenaw County Health Department is working with Michigan Medicine and IHA to vaccinate approximately 1,200 elementary school educators on Saturday, February 27. In addition to vaccinations, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has allowed AAPS to expand rapid tests for students and staff in school buildings, school officials said.
“Since the January announcement that K-12 educators would be eligible for vaccination, we have been disappointed that Washtenaw County has lagged behind other counties in achieving these critical goals,” reads a statement from AAPS. “This promising turn of events is the result of the advocacy work of many.”
This news will inform the recommendation that the school board will consider at its meeting on Wednesday, February 24, now scheduled to begin at noon, according to the statement.
The developments are a “game changer” for a healthy and safe re-entry into AAPS school buildings, school officials said.
The health department is providing the vaccine outside of its state allocation this week and is working directly with county schools and districts to connect their staff with the appropriate partner for the immunization record.
School employees age 50 and older have been offered vaccination appointments, but in the future, appointment requests are being opened to all eligible school employees through an invitation process.
“Limited vaccine supplies continue to hamper our local efforts to reach everyone who is currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine,” said Jimena Loveluck, health officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department, in a press release. “This week, we are grateful to have enough doses available to partner with Michigan Medicine and IHA to offer vaccination to our elementary educators in the most efficient way possible.”
Pressure has continued to mount on AAPS in recent weeks regarding whether it would remain primarily in remote learning for the remainder of the year, or whether it would set a deadline for returning students to the classroom.
Last week, the Ann Arbor School Board voted to direct Swift to come up with a plan to allow instruction to remain virtual for the remainder of the 2020-21 year, with the exception of serving those with the greatest needs. The decision was made nearly five and a half hours in a meeting on a motion that opposition trustees described as hasty, a surprise and radical.
Following the meeting, Ann Arbor Mayor Christopher Taylor and several city council members requested that the district confirm its previously established hybrid learning format and set a return deadline.
The board has since clarified in a message to families that it has not decided to remain in fully virtual instruction for the remainder of the year and that it has not yet voted to change or alter its approved transition to a hybrid learning option.
Instead, the board members said their intention is to set a date when the most vulnerable students can safely return to school buildings, help students who struggle the most with the current virtual model, help parents and caregivers who have requested help with their students’ learning. , help families plan for the remainder of the school year and focus efforts on an improved summer program and a strong and safe return to school in the fall.
In January, the district targeted a return to face-to-face classes in early March. The students have been in distance learning since last March.
The district’s current plan proposes bringing students back in stages, with the first stage including pre-kindergarten, five-year-old, and kindergarten students who have chosen the hybrid in-person learning model, as well as students with high-level specialized learning needs.
Small groups of middle and high school students who most needed face-to-face classes were also included. Additional stages proposed bringing students by grade level in week-long increments, with middle and high school students entering the hybrid format last.
Ann Arbor School Board will vote on plan for most students to finish the year virtually
With Mental Health Issues Looming, Ann Arbor Public Schools Students Host In-Person Learning Rally
Mayor, Council Members Urge Ann Arbor Schools To Offer Hybrid Learning, Planned Return Date