Parent’s Playbook: Coloma Community Schools

Published: Aug. 20, 2020 at 6:22 PM EDT
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Mich. (WNDU) - Coloma Community Schools returns to class at the end of the month with in-person learning and a virtual academy.

Our own Tricia Sloma recently talked to Superintendent Dave Ehlers about how teachers are feeling ahead of their return to classrooms.

Tricia: Among the Michigan schools getting started in the month of August, Coloma Community Schools. Joining me now, Superintendent Dave Ehlers. Good to see you, sir.

Ehlers: Good morning, thank you for having us.

Tricia: When is your start date?

Ehlers: We are going to start Aug. 31.

Tricia: Wonderful. And that's the planned date, you didn't have to switch things around. What are Coloma's learning options?

Ehlers: Well, we are doing in-person and then we have created a virtual academy where we have student who have signed up to take 100% virtual classes through a provider that we partnered with.

Tricia: Is that a huge improvement from over the springtime?

Ehlers: Well it's a lot different than what we did in the spring. In the spring everybody was just a remote learner and we were learning on the fly as our staff so this is a more organized, structured platform for our students who choose not to come to school. We've also beefed up our plan for if we would have to shut down school for the students that are in-person and if they were to switch to remote learning, so it's two different concepts.

Tricia: Well, tell me about your school. Because we know it's a smaller school, how do you plan to manage safety protocols for those kids that are in-person?

Ehlers: Well the first we're going ease into things to try it off. So each day, the first week of school is only a four-day work/school week, we're going to bring in one grade level per building, and test out our safety protocols. All students have to wear a mask on the bus, all students have to wear a mask in the common areas except if they're going to eat lunch. Our k through 5 students we're trying to keep them cohorted together as much as possible, when they are they don't have to wear a mask. Our sixth through 12 students will have to wear a mask all the time. We're going to try and observe as much spacing as we can but it's very difficult inside a school, we weren't designed for that. So with the kids that have went to virtual classes will drop our class sizes down a little bit to help space kids out. We removed all excess furniture in classrooms that aren't needed for instruction so that we can maximize the classroom space we have. We've beefed up our cleaning schedules. We've spent a lot of time planning to make this as safe as possible for our students and our kids, or students and teachers.

Tricia: And speaking of teachers, how is your staff? Did you have any early retirements, anybody have a lot of reservations about coming back to work?

Ehlers: I think the staff is a little apprehensive and a little nervous, in the end, as anyone is with the unknown. But we haven't had anybody, um, voice too many concerns that we haven't been able to address. I've had one teacher retire this summer, but that teacher was eligible to retire and I think just decided it was time to go.

Tricia: Yeah, well we certainly wish you a safe and happy back to school start date on the 31st, Mr. Ehlers, thank you so much for joining us.

Ehlers: Thank you for having us.

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