DEARBORN/DEARBORN HEIGHTS — With one school district already returning to in-person learning, all districts have the same goal of returning for the second half of the year.
Dearborn Heights’ D7 School District returned to in-person learning again last week after having to pause with the rest of the state.
“We haven’t had any issues so far,” Superintendent Jennifer Mast said. “We have a couple people still in quarantine from the pause.”
Mast also said that she is hopeful that the pause won’t be extended again.
“My hope is that all kids can return to school in January,” she said. “We will continue to do what we can to bring all students back safely. The goal is to have kids in school. This is a traumatic event for public education and students may fall behind not only educationally, but socially and emotionally as well.”
In the Crestwood School District, Superintendent Dr. Youssef Mosallam said that the district has decided to continue with its current setup of all students learning virtually.
“We are continuing in the same format that we are in,” he said. “But we are planning a slow hybrid option that we are hoping to have in place near the beginning of March. We want consistency and our students are in a routine and we don’t want to disrupt it.”
Mosallam also said he is optimistic about the future.
“I’m extremely optimistic and I have faith that we will be able to return back to some sort of normalcy by the fall,” he said. “Our goal is gradually phasing kids back in and reintegrating them back into the social and emotional environment. Once we can assess where they are we have already discussed developing summer programs to allow them to catch up. We don’t want to do anything abruptly and lose people along the way.”
Mast said she also expects an influx of programs to be developed for students.
“My fear is that there will be so many kids needing these programs that we will be catching up for a long time,” she said. “We will have a lot of work to do to assess students and build programs. My heart breaks for these kids and the ones who needed athletics for scholarships, but all these programs are in the thinking stages right now to think ahead. Making sure our kids and our families are okay right now is the top priority.”
Mosallam said that the Crestwood District is expecting to be able to adjust the curriculum to meet the needs of the students.
“We will focus on social, emotional, literacy and any other gaps caused by the pandemic,” he said. “We will adjust the district to close the gaps to help students excel. We will do everything in our power to help our students to be successful.”
Dearborn Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Glenn Maleyko said that their students have also not returned to in-person learning.
“There is still a high spike in Dearborn and right now we even have some staff working from home to help lower the risk,” he said. “We are trying to be role models. We have been planning for students to return to in-person learning, and that is the goal, but only if the rates go down we can start bringing them back.”
With hopes of the COVID-19 vaccine being available to the general public by late spring, all three superintendents said they aren’t sure if the vaccine will be required for students to be allowed to return to school in the fall, as that is mandated by the state.
“We do want everyone vaccinated and I’m hoping it will bring back some sort of normalcy,” Maleyko said. “I do plan on taking the vaccine when it’s my turn. For me, as long as it is deemed safe by medical professionals, I will take it. I want to get back to work.”
Maleyko also said that the district wouldn’t be able to succeed without the staff and families.
“Our staff and our parents are doing a really great job,” he said. “It’s a community effort. We need to get the numbers down. While students are doing well, we are deploying staff to reach out to parents and students to make sure they are doing all right. We will continue to move forward and adapt together.”