Ferndale Students May Do In Person Learning or Continue Remotely

Ferndale Students May Do In Person Learning or Continue Remotely

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Feb. 6, 2021)

Ferndale, Oak Park, Royal Oak Township, Pleasant Ridge, MI – Ferndale Schools families have a choice between continuing remote learning, or returning in person part time with a hybrid model. The shift happens March 1 for FECC, Lower and Upper Elementary; March 8 for Middle School; and March 15 for FHS, UHS, and Tri-County Education Center.

Families should already have made their choices through the district’s website. However, according to Communications Director Bill Good they are still working to contact parents that haven’t yet registered. The totals for online and hybrid won’t likely be known until next week, but they anticipate there will be about a 50/50% split.

On Thursday Superintendent Dania Bazzi hosted a Zoom meeting that was also streamed on Facebook that included herself, Good, principals of the schools, and other district staff to answer questions about the options.

“For the students that come back it’s still not going to be a traditional classroom experience of what they’re used to,” Good said.  Several differences were discussed including that students will not have lockers but will keep their backpacks with them through the day, they won’t be able to bring snacks, there will be no sharing of materials, and they will need to bring water bottles as there won’t be drinking fountains available. There won’t be breakfast on site, but students will be given a packaged lunch along with a packaged breakfast to take home for the next morning before coming to school.

Students will have assigned seats, even in lunch.  In the classrooms desks are outfitted with a shield, and students will be required to wear masks unless there is a clear medical exemption. Classes taking recess must stick to a schedule so as not to overlap with other classes.  Hallways will have clear traffic that has either a one way loop, or two way traffic flow depending on the building.

Lower Elementary Principal Diana Keefe said of the returning students, “They certainly will have some social interaction because they’ll be in a room and they can talk together and things like that. But it will still not be that movement that they’re used to, these small groups here and small groups sharing and making posters.  That collaboration is going to look different.

“Movement is certainly going to look different, but those conversations are going to be deep and meaningful,” Keefe said.

Ferndale High School Principal Radhka Issac is excited that with classes will be smaller both online and in person, saying it will mean even more attention to the students’ needs.

Parents wondered if teachers would be vaccinated, and what would happen should a positive COVID-19 test occur for a student or staff member.

The district does not require teachers to be vaccinated, nor do they ask.  However, Bazzi said, the teacher’s union has done a survey of members and found that at the time 65% had already signed up for an appointment.  Dr. Bazzi said that it has been taking some time to get people vaccinated due to supply chain limitations beyond the district’s control, but that teachers are given information for as many sources of the vaccine as possible including through Oakland County, though various pharmacies, and hospitals.

Dr. Bazzi said thank you to all those who had been reaching out about the needs of the teachers. “We appreciate that there’s care for the staff, and that’s what makes Ferndale special,” she said.

If a student or member of staff tests positive for COVID-19, the district nurse will contact those who have been in close contact with them and inform them that cannot return in person for ten days.  This doesn’t necessarily mean a whole class will be restricted.  Good explained that the seating charts help determine who had close contact and that the district nurse will evaluate each case to make the proper notifications.  Even if someone is not at risk, they may be notified if someone in a class is positive, so that everyone knows what is going on.

With all that there is to adjust to, it’s important for parents and kids to remember the basics: masks, distancing, and handwashing.

Ferndale Middle School Principal Seth Petty urged parents, “we need parents to reinforce handwashing at home.”  He explained that if families are mindful of handwashing and surface touch points at home, students will be more likely to remember to do it at school.

Ferndale Schools has a wealth of information on their website including details of the plans, how to register a choice, and where to reach out with questions.  Visit the Return to Learn page at https://www.ferndaleschools.org/return/.





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