Westwood Community School District Adjusts to Meet the Needs of Its Families
May 28, 2020
It's no secret that schools are closed in Michigan. But that doesn't have to mean the learning has to stop.
Schools in Michigan are required to submit a Continuity of Learning and COVID-19 Response Plan in order to continue to receive state aid. Principles guiding such plans include keeping students and their needs as the focus, making learning materials accessible to all, and keeping families engaged.
In the Westwood Community Schools District, Superintendent Dr. Stiles Simmons says the district has adopted an At-Home Learning Plan to keep young minds enriched. The district website includes an At-Home Learning Portal students can use to access class schedules and lessons. Students interact with teachers and receive tutoring assistance via live online sessions. "We're proud of what we were able to develop and proud of the communication we've had with our students and families," says Simmons. "We're really happy with the commitment and dedication on the part of our teachers, support staff, and our administrators in developing and implementing the plan; we've had almost no major issues."
Simmons concedes the transition to digital learning has been an adjustment for all, adding that the district has between 80 and 90 percent of its students engaged. One challenge the district is facing is a lack of internet access among its families, so paper learning packets had been used initially for the first few weeks of the At-Home Learning Plan and continue to be used at the elementary level. Upper level schools are using a combination of paper learning packets and digital learning.
Simmons says he hopes the new learning model will serve as a supplement to the traditional paper and pencil model of learning once the school closure is lifted. "I still feel that there is no substitute for our traditional teaching and learning model, especially for many of our students and families." He adds the At-Home Learning model will be an ideal plan for this district when it experiences snow days or any other event which may keep the school buildings closed for a period of time. He adds, "All academic learning counts."
In March, the district revived its Meet Up and Eat Up Program to ensure students who rely on school meals don't go hungry and families are able to stretch their food budget. "We're really proud of what we've been able to do in terms of distributing meals to our families," says Simmons. Meals are free and are distributed each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday beginning at 10:30 a.m. Pick up locations are
Robichaud High School and Daly Elementary School. For more information of the district's food program, please call 313-565-6631.
Simmons says support staff, including social workers and special education teachers are reaching out to families, ensuring social, emotional, as well as educational needs are being met. "We know that even without a global pandemic a lot of our students needed extra support, and you just couple that with the public health crisis, and there's a lot more need," says Simmons. "I'm just happy that we're able to service those students and their families."