Health

Communication on the Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Skylert message from the superintendent on September 4, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, school will begin next week on Tuesday, September 8 and we are extremely excited to see your children back to learning once again.  I am sure many of you are concerned about what school will look like this year.  I want to assure you that our staff has been back learning the important processes to keep everyone as safe as possible. Beginning school after Labor Day has allowed us to learn from districts that began school this week.

So I want to give you some information that will help us have a safe start.  First, there will be some traffic delays when dropping off students at the elementary school.  Please be patient as everyone will be new to this process.  The elementary school will be communicating more to parents about pick-up and drop-off soon.  The secondary school students will enter in the same manner they have before.  Everyone will have to have a mask on when entering the building K-12.

Second, there is a likelihood that students and staff may have to be quarantined due to their exposure sometime during the school year.  This could be for a specific positive case or this could be as a precaution for someone that has been around a positive case.  The health department, through their contact tracing process, will be our direct line of communication regarding any of these situations.  If your child has to be quarantined for a period of time, you will be directly contacted by the school or health department.  If we have a positive case in the school, I will do a Skylert to all parents letting them know that we have had a positive case and those affected by a quarantine will be contacted directly.

If we have a student that is showing symptoms of Covid in school, we have rooms that they will stay in and will be cared for until parents can pick them up from school and take them to a health care professional.  We are thankful to have our school nurse who will be the assessor of these situations.

Now, this is the most critical information.  Parents, if your child is feeling ill, you must keep them home.  If anyone in your family is having symptoms of Covid, please keep your child home until a Covid test can be administered to know whether the person in the home is positive.  Do not send your child to school if someone in your home suspects they have Covid or is waiting for test results.

Our kids have missed a lot of schooling and need a quality education.  The staff is excited to have your children back in school learning.  Please use precautions so we can keep our Community Spread of Covid-19 as low as it is now.

Have a great holiday weekend.

 

Skylert message from the superintendent on August 18, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, the Hesperia Board of Education last night took action to change our beginning school date from Monday, August 31, to Tuesday, September 8, (the day after Labor Day).  This decision was based on many factors but primarily was the result of recent legislative action creating variables that need to be sorted out before school begins.  We are eager to have your children back in school getting a quality education.

We are continuing to receive guidance from the Governor’s office and the Health Department regarding the importance of wearing masks.  I know this is a hot topic, but the science is overwhelming regarding the benefits of masking up.  Although it is not a requirement for elementary students to wear masks while cohorted in classrooms, there will be times when elementary students will wear masks in class.  Teachers may have students wear masks for short periods of time when they are working in close proximity to one another and when working closely with the teacher.

Parents, Friday, August 21, is the deadline for applications for our Panther Virtual school.  You may learn more about this virtual school option by visiting our website and clicking on the Schools Tab.  Please be sure to thoroughly read the information before applying.  You must fill out one form for each of your children that you wish to enroll.  Now here is the important part.  After reviewing your application, we will send you a contract through your email that needs to be signed and returned to the administrative office within 5 days.  Please fill the contract out completely as we need this in order to have your children enroll in classes.

Parents, this pandemic presents many challenges, but with your cooperation and understanding, we can get through this together.

 

Skylert message from the superintendent on August 11, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, our Board of Education last evening approved our Back to School Preparedness plan as required by the Governor’s Executive Order.  This plan was developed by our Return to School Roadmap Committee and addresses the type of school program we will offer based upon our region’s Phase.  We are currently in Phase 4 and this allows for the school to be open for in-person instruction 5 days a week.  Should we be placed in Phase 3 by our Governor, we will be required to have remote learning, much like we had last spring, but with much more vigor and expectations.

As we open school 5 days a week beginning on Monday, August 31, we are taking measures to help prevent exposure to students and staff. I have outlined these practices in my video and in the Board Approved Preparedness plan posted on the School District Web Page.  If we move to remote learning either by the Governor’s orders or by our own assessment of concern, I want to assure you we are working on our plan to transition in the best way possible.

Another option to in-person learning is our Panther Virtual program.  We realize this is not an option for everyone as it requires families to have good connectivity and computer resources.  We had originally placed a deadline for applications for August 14, but are extending that deadline to August 21 to assure parents have enough time to make a quality decision for their child’s education.  Information about Panther Virtual is on the District home page under the “Schools” tab.  Parents filling out the application will receive an emailed contract that must be returned in order for their child to complete enrollment.

Parents, masks stem the spread of this virus and are critical to our plan as we ready ourselves for in-person instruction.  We have certainly ordered masks to have on hand, but we would kindly accept all sizes of masks donated to our school to give out as a resource to our students. If you would like to donate masks, our school offices will be open beginning next week to receive them.

Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we move through these challenges of beginning the school year.  We will get through this pandemic by working together.


A call from the superintendent on August 7, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community schools with a brief message.

Parents, I understand the incredible pressure that many of you are under regarding whether or not to send your child to school.  None of us asked to be in this difficult situation and honestly many folks are just ready to done with it.  I understand the concerns because, within my own family, we had a scare about whether a family member had the virus.  Thankfully, the test was negative, but the fear was real.

At the same time, as much as this virus wreaks havoc with health and emotions, we know of another crisis that is also of grave concern to our families.  That crisis is the education of a generation of students affected by this virus. Without a solid educational experience this generation of students may be adversely affected for many years to come.  Imagine the difficulty of teaching reading to a lower elementary student on-line or algebra II to a high school student without the support of in-person dialogue with a teacher.  Nothing is more effective for most children that face to face instruction.

Parents we have been fielding a number of questions regarding the opening of school, so we created a FAQ document with these questions supplying the most complete answers we can at this time.  As I have stated before, executive orders, science and other factors can change the answers to these questions on a daily basis.  The FAQ document is the best information at this time.  We will post this document on our website for your review along with a link from Facebook to this document.  We will be updating the document as we receive additional questions.

The Board of Education last Monday evening spent a considerable amount of time reviewing the Preparedness and Response plan put together by our District Return to School Roadmap Committee. The board has as an action item on Monday’s agenda for the approval of this plan, because it must be submitted to the State by August 15.  This plan reflects what was posted in my Return to School video that is currently posted for your review on our District Web site.

Thank you for your continue understanding and support as we move through these challenging times.  We miss your children and look forward to seeing them on August 31.


Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) Document August 7, 2020.

Quote from Dr. Morse, District 10 Health Department: “The benefit of in-person school far outweigh the health risks based upon the current data.” 8/7/20

Quote from The American Academy of Pediatrics:The AAP strongly advocates that all policy considerations for the coming school year should start with the goal of having students physically present in school.”

Quote from The American Academy of Pediatrics Continued: “Physical distancing sometimes referred to as social distancing, is simply the act of keeping people separated with the goal of limiting spread of contagion between individuals. It is fundamental to lowering the risk of spread of SARS-CoV-2, as the primary mode of transmission is through respiratory droplets by persons in close proximity. There is a conflict between optimal academic and social/emotional learning in schools and strict adherence to current physical distancing guidelines. For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that schools "space seating/desks at least 6 feet apart when feasible." In many school settings, 6 feet between students is not feasible without limiting the number of students. Evidence suggests that spacing as close as 3 feet may approach the benefits of 6 feet of space, particularly if students are wearing face coverings and are asymptomatic. Schools should weigh the benefits of strict adherence to a 6-feet spacing rule between students with the potential downside if remote learning is the only alternative. Strict adherence to a specific size of student groups (eg, 10 per classroom, 15 per classroom, etc) should be discouraged in favor of other risk mitigation strategies. Given what is known about transmission dynamics, adults and adult staff within schools should attempt to maintain a distance of 6 feet from other persons as much as possible, particularly around other adult staff. For all of the below settings, physical distancing by and among adults is strongly recommended, and meetings and curriculum planning should take place virtually if possible. In addition, other strategies to increase adult-adult physical distance in time and space should be implemented, such as staggered drop-offs and pickups, and drop-offs and pickups outside when weather allows. Parents should, in general, be discouraged from entering the school building. Physical barriers, such as plexiglass, should be considered in reception areas and employee workspaces where the environment does not accommodate physical distancing, and congregating in shared spaces, such as staff lounge areas, should be discouraged.”

Q: Why isn’t our district developing a hybrid model with some days off and on for students?  The primary reason that some districts are making this decision rests solely on the purpose of providing a constant degree of 6 feet of distance between students.  The distance of 6 feet is not a requirement in the Roadmap plan and was not required by the creators of the document because they knew school districts, by the way of structural design, could not accommodate 6 feet of distancing in classrooms.  Interviews with State Roadmap Committee members, and our Local Health Department officials show that their emphasis focuses on mitigation of the spread in our system on mask-wearing, disinfecting, and cohorting.  It is without doubt, that human nature, even with a 6-foot social distancing protocol will not be fully compliant 100 percent of the time. Students of all ages will be driven, despite our best adherence to social distancing, to be close to each other.  This is human nature. This is exactly why we have focused on mask-wearing, disinfecting, and cohorting.  The compliance with mask-wearing allows for the differential of the typical 6-foot distancing protocol. (See Quote from The American Academy of Pediatrics above) The only time students in the middle and high schools have masks off, is during the timeframe when they are eating and/or outside.  When eating or outside they will be social distancing to a 6 feet standard or greater.

Q:  What might be some challenges with a Hybrid Model?  I guess when we are speaking about hybrids, we are thinking about a mode that has a combination of in school and out of school instruction.  As many parents can attest to from last spring’s shut down, connectivity to the internet while at home can be a fairly challenging situation. It may be challenging because of the lack of internet connection, the lack of computer resources, or even the strain on those resources when there is more than one student in the home trying to access the school’s lessons.  In addition, many parents during this time are working remotely at home during the day using the computer and connectivity for their employment.  Schools that have adopted the Hybrid models typically have a school population with full access to the internet via ethernet connections, satellite, or even cell service, which is spotty and inconsistent in many areas of the District.

Additional challenges relate directly to students being home on an inconsistent weekly schedule where parents would have to find daycare while at work when students are home with an expectation for learning.  Another factor more recently questioned is the idea that teens, through their mobility, might connect with each other on these “home days” not following Covid Mitigation practices, thus causing greater risk to community spread.  At least in the consistent school setting, students are wearing masks, in a clean, and cohorted environment.

Q: How can the Governor implement an Executive Order that limits personal gatherings inside buildings to 10 people all the while knowing that schools will have hundreds of children gathering to learn? We can only surmise at this point that the restriction of 10 for personal gatherings is her effort to slow the spread of the disease to a level that would make it easier to open schools under the conditions she approved in the Return to School Roadmap plan.

Q: If we cannot assemble with more than 10 people under one roof, how can schools meet with classrooms of more than 10?  The governor’s roadmap identifies that schools may open under specific cleaning, masking, and spacing protocols, all of which are highly recommended and not required with the exception of mask-wearing and some specific disinfecting processes.

Q: How much are you really going to disinfect on a daily basis? We will have hand sanitizer at all entrances to the building, buses and in all classrooms.  Students will be sanitizing their hands when entering these areas.  Our custodial crew will be increased during the day for constant, high traffic, touchpoint, cleaning.  While students are eating outside of the room, socially distanced, or cohorted, custodians will use backpack sprayers to disinfect classrooms with electrostatic backpack sprayers.  In addition, all classrooms will have disinfectant wipes to wipe down desks used prior to new students entering the classroom.

Q: So what constitutes a mask and does my child have to wear one? A mask is a fabric or mesh worn to cover someone’s mouth and nose in a way that mitigates the flow of air. It could look different depending on the structure but must be school appropriate. Masks must be worn by students in 6th grade and above throughout the day except when eating or outside.  Students in Pre-K through 5th grade, if cohorted, may only have to wear masks when they are not in their own classroom environment. They would have to wear a mask on the way to things, such as lunch, recess, P.E./music, etc.

Q: Will my middle school student get in trouble if he takes his mask off? We will remind your child that it is the rule that he/she has to wear his mask.  If the student continues to defy the rule, we will contact the parents.  If the student continues to not wear the mask despite this intervention, the student will not be able to attend school and may have to consider a virtual school option.

Q: Will my child have a break once in a while from his/her mask?  Yes, they will have the mask off during their eating time at lunch, and teachers are allowed to take students outside for instruction and/or even a mask break time.

Q: What if my child has a medical condition or an IEP where a mask would be a problem?  The parents would have to supply a medical release from a doctor to the school.  We would also work within the legalities of an IEP.  In these cases, we would encourage the use of a shield as an alternative to a mask.  We would provide the shield.

Q: Can my daughter do the Panther Virtual and attend Voc, Band, P.E.? Panther Virtual is an entirely online school experience and does not include any in-person classes whether it is Voc, band, P.E., etc.  Students wishing to have these classes will have to elect to continue in-person instruction.

Q: Will the school provide a Chromebook as they did before if we move into remote learning from in-person learning? Yes, as we did this spring, we would sign out Chromebooks to families that need additional devices if we had to move as a district into remote learning.  In addition, we are trying to identify locations within the district boundaries where we can provide some hotspots on school buses for the purpose of downloading school assignments.

Q: Okay, so what if the school begins with in-person instruction and then goes to remote learning for some reason? The classes the student had been attending will move to a remote instructional platform through the student’s current teachers and schedule.  So if a student is enrolled in Voc, they would continue with Voc, but through an online experience with their instructor from the center.

Q: Will the kids be able to use their backpacks to carry 3 classes of books with them?  Yes, it is our intention to allow this due to the circumstances presented with the pandemic. Students that switch classes in the middle and high school will get their books and materials form their lockers two times a day.  Once in the morning when they enter school for their first three hours of classes and then after lunch for the last 3 hours.  This keeps kids from hanging out in the halls.

Q: Will the students be eating in the classroom or cafeteria?  Elementary breakfast will be served in the classroom as it has in the past.  Secondary breakfast will be served through the cafeteria as it has been in the past with additional seating opportunities in the H.S. commons area and the multipurpose room.  Lunch for elementary will take place in classroom cohorts with considerable distance apart from each other utilizing the cafeteria and an additional open classroom.  Middle and High School students will get the food in the cafeteria and will eat in additional eating areas to provide for social distancing.

Q: I know masks are required on the bus but are they going to be able to maintain social distance on them as well and still bus all the students? Students taking the bus will not be able to be socially distanced 6 feet. Although this would be preferable, it is not feasible. They will be required to use hand sanitizer and wear a mask to ride unless they have a medical condition that is excused by a doctor.  We would encourage parents who are able to transport their children to do so to lessen the number of students on the bus.  When riding the bus, students will sit with family members.  There will also be no bus passes during this time.

Q: Will I be able to come into the school to drop my elementary student off?  Unfortunately, it will be a kiss and go from the car.  We will be working on a drop off plan for the parking lot to help with safety concerns.

Q: Do I have to wear a mask if I have to come into the office for something? Everyone entering the office who is not a direct school employee must wear a mask and have temperature check. (Employees have their own health check protocols to accomplish before they begin for the day.)

The MI Safe Start Phases Comparison Chart

The Safe Schools Comparison Chart Picture

An email and phone call went to parents with a video from Superintendent, Vaughn White, that explains the return to school planning by the Return to School Roadmap Committee.

 

Video DocumentThe return to school planning video

The video is in MP4 format.


A call from the superintendent on July 22, 2020.
 

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with an important update.

Parents, our Return to School Roadmap Committee has been meeting and preparing for our return to school this fall.  There are many decisions that are being made to provide a safe and healthy environment for students and staff as we move closer to a 5 day a week schedule beginning August 31.

Despite our best efforts to provide a safe environment, we acknowledge there are parents that will choose an online school option. Parents that make this choice could be sending their students’ dollars to a virtual school somewhere else in Michigan or even the Nation.  Because we wish to keep your child part of the Hesperia Community School District, our Roadmap Committee has worked to produce an online learning option that keeps local dollars flowing to our district.  I would like to announce the launching of Panther Virtual School as an alternative choice for in-person instruction.

Much work has gone into producing this virtual school option. Even though a vast majority of the instruction will be provided by a third-party vendor, we feel it is important for students to still have that personal connection with our teachers. 

The virtual school for the elementary K-5 is provided by an online learning system called Calvert. Calvert has been around for quite some time and has a history of proven effectiveness.  Students enrolling in Calvert will be assigned their own on-line teacher to move them through the learning program.  As part of the plan, elementary students will be assigned an in-district teacher to check-in and mentor students.

The secondary, 6-12 grades will have a virtual learning program run through Edmentum.  Edmentum also has many years of experience with virtual learning.  Students will work through course offerings with the support of our in-district virtual learning liaison. Because students working through course work will need support for content questions our in-district teachers will provide mentoring support.

Parents, you may learn more about Panther Virtual School through our District website. The deadline for completing the on-line application is Friday, August 14.  Please note that should you choose this educational delivery model you will commit to a semester of this type of learning. You will also find that as a student of Hesperia Community Schools, you will retain the benefits and opportunities for participation in school events, sports, and extracurricular activities.

We know that an online option is not for everyone and this decision will be made carefully to assure the best learning for your child.  Our teachers and staff miss your kids and are eager to get them caught up with their education after this significant time away from school.  We hope to see most of them in the fall as we begin the school year and we can only hope that this pandemic will subside soon.  Thank you and have a good evening.


This call from the superintendent went out July 10, 2020

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief update.

Parents, last week Governor Whitmer released a 63-page plan called the “Return to School Roadmap”. Our Return to School Committee made up of parents, teachers, support staff, and administrators met Wednesday to begin the important task of reviewing the roadmap to create a plan for the safe return to school.

The task for this committee is to create a plan for opening school based specifically on the Phase designation of our Region.  We are currently under Phase 4 which will allow us to open school to in-person instruction under specific mandates and recommendations.

An example of a mandate under phase 4 is that all students must wear a facial covering in grades 6-12 throughout the day except for when students are eating.  Students in Kindergarten through 5th grade must wear facial covering unless students remain with their classes throughout the day and do not come into contact with students from other classes.

So under this specific mandate, there are questions that need to be answered.  For example, what constitutes a facial covering?  Is that a mask or will a shield suffice?  Are we able to keep our elementary classes in a cohort without mixing with other classes so they don’t have to wear a mask in class? 

So you can see just from this one example there are many questions and many operational and scheduling items to figure out.  Remember this is just a Phase 4 mandate.  We have to have plans for Phase 3 and Phase 5 as well.

Phase 3 is the phase where we have to have distance learning taking place at home.  Our committee will work to help fortify the plan that we had to put in place in a weeks’ notice last spring.  There is much work to be completed on this plan as well.  If we are fortunate to be elevated to Phase 5, it may look similar to Phase 4 with a lessening of some restrictions.

All of the schools around us and throughout Michigan are embarking on the same task of developing their plans.  With this process, we will work to create a safe learning environment for our students and staff.  Despite our best plans, we know that some parents may decide to choose an online, virtual learning program this fall. If that is your choice we will have a virtual learning option for your child.  Our roadmap committee will be putting this option together in the upcoming weeks so parents will have a better understanding of what it is and how to apply.

We understand how the unknowns of the upcoming school year is frustrating as we are living that reality with you.  None of us has ever lived through a pandemic so how we navigate through it is completely new territory.  Our overall best option for students is to be at Phase 6 which is post-pandemic.  Let’s work together to stop the spread of this virus now so we have fewer restrictions in the fall.  Thank you and be safe.


This call from the superintendent went out July 2, 2020

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief update.

Parents, On Tuesday, Governor Whitmer released a 63-page plan called the “Return to School Roadmap”. We are reviewing this plan’s orders and guidelines for opening day of school on August 31. We are hopeful to open school with students in our classrooms.

In-order to open under this plan there will be specific actions, protocols, and expectations related to the Region our school falls in and the Phase designation based on the COVID-19 cases in our region.  Our district is in Region 2 and we are currently in Phase 4.

Throughout the month of July, we will spend time preparing three plans for returning.

Plan 1: (Returning to School under Phase 4)

Our plan will be created to address the following:

Personal Protection Equipment                

Hygiene          

Spacing           

Movement

Access

Screening students

Screening staff

Testing protocols for students and staff for responding to positive cases

Food Service

Assemblies

Extracurricular activities

Athletics

Cleaning

Transportation

Medically vulnerable students and staff

Governance

Instruction

Communication

Professional development

Facilities usage

Budget

Enrollment

Staffing

Technology

 Plan 2: (Returning to School under Phase 5)

Our plan will be created to address returning to school under the same plan as Phase 4, but with fewer overall restrictions.

Plan 3: (Away from School Learning under Phase 3 and below)

Phase 3 will involve an On-line learning/hybrid learning situation.  The plan will include a virtual learning program/process yet to be defined specifically or developed. 

Given some parental concerns regarding students returning to in-school instruction, our district is committed to offering a virtual learning option to parents.  This program, if chosen, will take place through an application process and will most likely be at least a semester-long commitment.  More information will be coming out as this is developed.

We have a committee that will be the lead group to begin this work and they will be meeting weekly, updating a planning document with recommendations.  This committee will be divided into sub-committees that will report back to the group as they develop plans.  As our plan becomes more developed, we will share it with our county districts with the hope we can find consistencies among our practices.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this challenging process.

Vaughn

 

This call from the superintendent went out June 17, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a couple of brief messages.

Parents, I am calling to remind you that tomorrow, June 18 we will be distributing meals to families at one location in our district.  Meals will be distributed only through the Middle School office entrance from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  Also, it is very important that Chromebooks and their cords that were borrowed this spring, be returned to the school as soon as possible.  Chromebooks can be returned at the food distribution site or the administration office located on the south side of the building between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Parents, we continue to communicate with our politicians and state agencies to gather information regarding two very important issues facing Michigan schools.  These issues are school funding and the requirements and/or direction for reopening.  We are challenged with reports that school funding may be cut significantly to Michigan school districts as we move into a year with significant needs for support to our children going through this crisis.  Your efforts to contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives for additional federal funding for schools would be greatly appreciated.

Regarding school opening this year, it is my sincere hope that we will progress in a direction that leads us to a traditional 5 day a week schedule.  We just have to see how things progress this summer and look forward to the Governor’s release of a back to school roadmap at the end of this month. 

We realize some parents, regardless of the safety protocols and structures for getting students back to school, may choose to have their children attend a virtual online school. Because we understand this reality, we will offer a free, online virtual learning option to our parents through our district resources that will keep students connected as a Hesperia Panther. We will have an enrollment/application process developed this summer should parents wish to choose this option.  Nothing is more effective than that face to face instruction that pupils receive in their traditional school, but we are in a different circumstance due to this pandemic and want to reassure parents that we have a virtual option for them.

We will continue to update you as information becomes clearer this summer. We appreciate your continued support as we face the challenges ahead.

The letter below from all Newaygo County superintendents was posted on June 15, 2020.

From the Newaygo County School Superintendents

The superintendents of the Newaygo County Regional Educational Services Area wish to collectively express appreciation for the efforts of our students, parents/guardians, teachers, support staff, administrators, and community for quickly adapting to the change to remote instruction and learning. We recognize this sudden shift has not been without its challenges, and we thank you for working to overcome them amidst the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout this pandemic, our primary concern has been the health and wellbeing of our students, staff, and communities.  We hope you are well and will remain so, both physically and mentally.

As we near the end of the 2019-2020 school year, we know you are wondering about the 2020-2021 school year.  We too have read the stories about how other states and school districts are planning to conduct school next year. While we recognize the need to plan for a variety of possibilities, the reality is we simply don’t know what things will look like in August at this point in time.

For this reason, we are actively planning possible scenarios for school next year. These include:

1.   In-person, face-to-face instruction with proper precautions and safety measures;

2.   Remote/distance learning using technology and other means;

3.   A combination of in-person, face-to-face instruction, and remote/distance learning.

To the extent that remote/distance learning continues to be part of the instructional delivery model, we anticipate a more robust program with student participation, engagement, and assessment expectations more closely resembling that of the traditional, in-person school.

As a group, we are actively engaged in planning now and throughout the summer with additional efforts forthcoming within individual school districts. We have been and will continue to work with our District Health Department #10 as we rely heavily on their guidance and direction. We will also seek guidance from the State of Michigan and the Federal Government as they release guidelines for reopening schools.

We are committed to maintaining transparency in our planning, while also exercising a degree of caution, knowing that any plans we decide on are subject to the actions of government officials. We will provide additional information to you as these plans are developed. In the interim, we ask for your patience and understanding.

Finally, for those families with children who will be entering kindergarten next year, our districts are still accepting kindergarten registrations. We would encourage you to register your child as soon as possible as it assists us in our planning for next year. Please visit our websites to learn more about the registration process.

Yours in Education,

Vaughn White, Hesperia Community Schools

Ken Haggart, Fremont Public Schools

Brett Zuver, Grant Public Schools

Dr. Peggy Mathis, Newaygo Public Schools
Ed Canning, White Cloud Public Schools

Dr. Lori Tubbergen Clark, Newaygo County RESA and Big Jackson Public Schools


 


 

The message below is from the superintendent on June 3, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, I am calling to remind you that tomorrow, June 4 we will be distributing meals and locker contents as well as collecting packets and Chromebooks from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the bell tower, middle and high school locations.  The process will be similar with families staying in their cars.  However, you may see a number of teachers helping and waving to students as items are traded.

Parents, this has been a challenging 3 months with many changes. Who would have ever predicted that a pandemic would separate us in person, but let us remember that we are not separated in Panther spirit as we move toward a new school year next fall. 

So what will school look like in the fall?  That is the question everyone wants the answer to and no one can provide with certainty.  It is my sincere hope that we will progress out of this pandemic in a direction that leads us to a traditional 5 day a week schedule.  However, other models could include distance learning full time or a mix of in-person and distance learning.  We just have to see how things progress this summer.

There are committees at the state level, county level, and even set up within our own school district to help plan for the opening.  Our local committee has teachers, support staff, administrators, board, and parents as members.  This way we can assure the best possible educational experience for your children.

Parents, we have another significant challenge.  Due to the pandemic, our economy has slowed creating an incredible shortfall in school funding.  Currently, all Michigan schools are anticipating significant budget cuts.  Without backfill dollars from the federal government, there will have to be some very difficult decisions moving forward this school year.  Please feel free to contact your U.S. Senators and Representatives about the importance of supporting schools during this challenging time.

On a happier note, beginning Monday, students may begin once again to attend work-outs and practices outside of the school building.  This must be done under the guidelines of the Michigan High School Athletic Association for social distancing and disinfecting.  Also, if the Governor continues to open up the state, we may be able to modify commencement to a more open ceremony.  The graduation committee will be monitoring and adjusting as we go.

Parents, once again, thank you for your patience and understanding through these difficult times.  We appreciate you and miss your children.  Have a safe and healthy summer.


The message below is from the superintendent on May 21, 2020.

Good morning parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, I am calling to remind you that today, Thursday, May 21, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. is a food distribution day.  With Monday being a holiday, there will not be food distribution on Tuesday, May 26th. Students receiving food today will get enough food for 7 days.

Second, contents of lockers will be bagged and tagged with student names for pick-up as part of our Thursday food distribution process on June 4th which marks the end of our school year. This is also the day when Chromebooks must be returned back to the school.

Last, we have set a graduation ceremony date of Thursday, July 16, at 7:00 p.m. Graduation exercises will take place on the football field with graduates and family members practicing social distancing by being in their cars on the field.  There will be a very limited number of guests allowed in the bleachers.  After the ceremony, the cars (and I am sure they will be decorated) will parade through town as by-standers can wave them on to their new life adventures.

Parents, thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.  We can only hope that we can get through this situation soon and get our lives back to normal.

Stay safe and take care.


The message below is from the superintendent on May 12, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, our next food and learning packet pick up and drop off will take place this Thursday, May 14, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The procedure will be similar to what it was a couple of weeks ago.  You will drive up to the building where your child attends school and request food if needed, request a learning packet, and drop off a learning packet if your child is finished with it.  Please make sure your child’s name is on the returned packet. It will also be helpful for you to put your child’s teacher’s name on the packet if they attend Kindergarten through 5th grade and your child’s grade level on the packet if they attend 6th through 12th grade.

If your child has not completed the learning packet, the packet may be dropped off during any food distribution day and timeframe.  If your child is completing work entirely online and this is the agreement you have with the teacher, you do not have to turn in a learning packet.

Our last packet drop off will take place on Thursday, June 4th, which is the last day of school.  All Chromebooks will need to be returned on this date.  Food will continue to be distributed through June 30th, but we may have a different schedule for food in the near future.

Parents, thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.  We can only hope that we can get through this situation soon and get our lives back to normal.

Stay safe and take care.



The link below is information regarding the Pandemic EBT Program.

PDF DocumentPandemic EBT Program Information.pdf


The message below is from the superintendent on April 28, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, our next food and learning packet pick up and drop off will take place this Thursday, April 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The procedure will be similar to what it was a couple of weeks ago.  You will drive up to the building where your child attends school and request food if needed, request a learning packet, and drop off a learning packet if your child is finished with it.  Please make sure your child’s name is on the returned packet. It will also be helpful for you to put your child’s teacher’s name on the packet if they attend Kindergarten through 5th grade and your child’s grade level on the packet if they attend 6th through 12th grade.

If your child has not completed the learning packet, the packet may be dropped off during any food distribution day and timeframe.  If your child is completing work entirely online and this is the agreement you have with the teacher, you do not have to turn in a learning packet.

Second, all students attending our school system regardless of income will receive additional financial support for food purchasing through a government program called the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer Program.  Families with a Bridge Card will have additional funds added to their card soon.  Families that do not have a Bridge Card will receive a Pandemic EBT card in the mail sent under the name of their oldest child by the end of the first week in May. This card will look different than what the Bridge Card looks like.  The combined benefits for the March and April installment will be $193.80 per eligible child.  The combined benefit for May and June will be $182.40 per eligible child.  If you choose not to use this benefit, the State recommends the purchasing of food and donating the food to a local food bank.  The benefit is good until December 31, 2020.

The flier that explains this program will be posted on our website soon.

Parents, thank you for your continued support during this challenging time.  We can only hope that we can get through this situation soon and get our lives back to normal.


The message below is from the superintendent on April 15, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.  The information I am presenting can be accessed on our district webpage under the COVID 19 Badge for further review.

Parents, tomorrow, Thursday, April 16 we will have three important distributions taking place in the district.  All of these distributions will take place between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. and include picking up food, picking up student learning packets and picking up Chromebooks.  The first significant item is the timeframe.  Our normal food distribution time is from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. It is only tomorrow that this time frame will change to 3:00 to 5:00 p.m.  All food distribution after that will continue to take place from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Second, we will be handing out learning packets during this timeframe at each of the school pick-up locations.  Kindergarten through 4th-grade students will have packets at the north side of the building at the Bell Tower entrance.  5th through 8th-grade students will have packets at the middle school office entrance on the west side of the building.  9th through 12th-grade students will have their packets at the high school office entrance on the south side of the building.  Parents who have children in multiple schools will have to go to each individual site to pick up their child’s learning packet. We will be mailing home packets not picked up by parents, so picking them up will save a considerable amount of postage.  Parents, for our progress monitoring requirements, completed packets should be dropped off in their original envelope two weeks after receiving them at your child’s building location.  Please refer to the calendar on the District’s webpage for further information.

Third, parents who were unable to pick up a Chromebook for their children on Tuesday and parents that are in need of an additional Chromebook for their family may pick one up during this time.  Again, because of limited resources, we are only handing out one Chromebook per family during this timeframe.

Parents, because of the nature of this event, you will have to exit your vehicles to get the packets, food, and Chromebooks.  Please adhere to social distancing protocols during this time.  We appreciate your patience as we move through this somewhat challenging process.

We hope all of your children get off to a good start with learning Monday.  We are all in this together, so if we work together, we can have the best outcome for our kids.

Thank you and have a great day.

The document below is the Educational Plan calendar.

/downloads/district_documents/hesperia_district_calendar_covid_19.pdf


The document below is the Parent/Student Device Checkout Agreement.

PDF Document/downloads/technology/device_checkout_agreement.pdf

The message below is a letter home from the superintendent on April 9, 2020.

Dear HCS Families,

I am writing to you in response to Governor Whitmer’s executive order to suspend face to face instruction with your children for the rest of the school year.  Under this order, we have developed a plan for instruction that will begin, Monday, April 20, 2020.  This plan will include virtual learning for those families that have connectivity and devices and packet learning for those that do not have virtual resources.  I have bulleted below the most important information for parents/students to know as we move forward.

Learning Packet Process:

  • All students will receive a two week learning packet either through pick-up at the food distribution sites by parents or sent through the mail.  The more packets picked up, the less cost for the school to mail them.
  • Pick-ups will be on the following days and times. (Thursday, April 16 from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m., Thursday, April 30 from 11:00 to 1:00 p.m., and Thursday, May 14 from 11:00 to 1:00 p.m.  Beginning April, 16 the Elementary Office pick up site will be moved to the High School office across from the parking lot.
  • Packets will have student names on them and will be distributed at the building pick-up site associated with the student’s grade.  K-4th grade at the Bell Tower, 5th-8th grade at the middle school, and 9th -12th grade at the high school office entrance.

Teacher Communication and Access:

  • Teachers will reach out to students virtually or by phone offering communication and instruction clarifications. Some teachers will be utilizing learning platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom, Google Hangouts, See Saw and other such resources for students that are able to access them through their devices.  Information will be included on the cover page of the learning packet regarding teacher communication/instruction techniques and office hour times for students to contact them.

Technology Distribution Plan:

  • We believe our district has enough Chrome Book devices to hand out one to each family that does not already have an adequate device.  Having connectivity and a device will be helpful as it will increase accessibility for teaching and learning.  However, we understand the challenges in our rural community with connectivity and this is why we have produced learning packets that are not dependent on this mode of instruction.
  • We have scheduled a time frame for picking up Chromebooks at school.  They will be loaned, one per family at the Bell Tower on Tuesday, April 14 from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.  Parents must sign the Chromebook out, agreeing to the terms and conditions included on the form.  We will arrange a drop off time once school is out on June 4, 2020.
  • If we have Chromebook left over after this initial distribution, we may set up another date for families to pick up an additional device if they have additional needs.  This date is yet to be determined.

There will be some challenges with this process and we appreciate your patience and flexibility through the upcoming six weeks of school.  We can only ask that we all do our best during this trying time.

Message below is from the superintendent on April 2, 2020.

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, Governor Whitmer today declared that schools will be closed for the rest of this school year.  This does not mean that education won’t continue. We will be challenged to develop a plan to educate your children while they are safe at home.  As I am speaking, I know I am far from answering the many questions you have.  My intent is to give you confidence that we will develop a plan moving forward that will eventually answer those questions.  This will take some time.

Let me begin with the calendar date of April 20th that Newaygo County Schools will use as a target for implementation of our Continuous Learning Plan.  Working back from that date, we will design the process that teachers will have in order to meet the needs of our students.  We will do this as a team, working cooperatively together of create best plan possible. 

We appreciate your input on our student internet and device survey. This was helpful for us to understand what online resources are available in our family’s homes.  Our plan will most likely coordinate a combination of both electronic and paper resources to meet the vast array of student needs. There is much work to be done, but a plan will be created and implemented.

I am offering some of the highlights that will help better understand the flexibility the Governor is offering as we move forward.  They include the following:

Students will not receive grades or assessments for online or packet learning.

Attendance will not be taken daily, but rather through the overall participation in the process. 

Students will not be taking the M-STEP, PSAT, or SAT at school this year.

All students who were on track to be promoted to the next grade or graduate will still do so.

Students will not be penalized in any way if they are unable to complete assignments due to lack of resources.

All Newaygo County school districts are brainstorming how and when to hold graduation ceremonies later this summer, if allowed to do so by the State of Michigan.

Parents, although academic support is important, I assure you our teachers and staff miss your kids very much and are very concerned for their wellness and safety during this crisis.    Please follow the guidelines put forth by our government in order to keep all of us safe and well in our district.

I appreciate your patience as we unfold this plan to you over the course of the next couple of weeks.


Message below is from the superintendent on March 31, 2020.


Good morning parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools.

Parents, it is with a heavy heart that we are expecting school will not be allowed back into session this school year.  The Governor may release an executive order soon mandating the close of all Michigan School Districts buildings. This predicted action is to prevent the spread of this very contagious virus.  I am sure the decision will be difficult for her to make, but made for the health and safety of all of our families.

We anticipate her order will direct school districts to attempt, to their best abilities, online instruction.  We realize this could be an overwhelming task for our teachers and families that do not have or have limited connectivity and devices.  This will not only be a challenge for our district, but a challenge for hundreds of school districts across our state.  Nonetheless, we will brainstorm ways to make this work for as many of our students as possible. This will require patience and support from all of us.

I know there are many unanswered questions at this point.  We will work to answer these questions as we gain more information to develop plans to address educational needs.  I am confident that seniors will receive diplomas if they were currently on track with credits before the closure.  It is unclear however, if or when, commencement will take place.  We just don’t know at this point.

In order for online instruction to have any chance at all, we absolutely need you to take the Student Internet and Device Survey found on our district webpage.  This information is critical for us to assess the resources available in your household.  Please fill out one survey for each child in your home that attends kindergarten through 12th grade.

Parents, I appreciate your commitment to our district as we work through the upcoming weeks.  We know this situation has been extremely difficult and our thoughts and prayers are with you.


Message below is from the superintendent on March 23, 2020.

 

Good evening parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

Parents, the Governor enacted the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order today that places significant limitations on public gathering.  We have been fortunate to transport student meals to homes this last week, but now we are obligated to transition to a new process that will significantly reduce the opportunity for our volunteers to be infected by the virus.

We will no longer be distributing food on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  Food will now be available at pick up sites on the district premises on Tuesdays and Thursdays to limit the amount of opportunity for exposure.  This process will begin on Thursday, March 26th and will follow each Tuesday and Thursday after that through, April 9th.  We will not be distributing lunches Wednesday, March 25th.

Distribution of food will take place at the bell tower entrance on the Northside of the building, at the elementary office on the Southside of the building and at the middle school office on the West side of the building.  Pick up will between 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. and students will receive a 3 day supply of breakfasts and lunches. 

It is important that those picking up food from the buildings stay in their vehicles and signal to the volunteers how many meals they need to feed their children.  You may choose what distribution point you wish to drive up to.  If the line is too long, just drive around the building to another site.

Parents, we are experiencing unprecedented circumstances.  We are grateful for the many volunteers that have helped through this process and thankful for their many tireless hours.  We can only pray that by obeying the Governor’s proclamation we can get through this crisis.   We truly miss our kids and hope we can see them in April!

Stay safe and healthy my friends.    


Message below is from the superintendent on March 18, 2020.

*

Good afternoon parents, this is Vaughn White, Superintendent of Hesperia Community Schools with a brief message.

This afternoon we began the process of distributing school lunches to students using our bus routes. We also gave breakfast and lunch bags out at the bell tower on the north side of school. If your children do not normally ride the bus and you are unable to come into school to pick up a lunch, please contact the bus garage and we will try to get you on a route to drop food off. Simply call Dan Bailey, Transportation Coordinator at 854-9301 and leave a message with the following information: Student first and last names, the home address and your phone number. If you do not wish to take meals for your students, you may also call and leave a message.

Parents, this is a new process for us and it may take some time to get things honed into a good system. We are dependent on many volunteers and we greatly appreciate their support during these difficult times.

Remember to follow the State and Federal guidelines so we can beat this virus and get students back to school.

Thank you and have a great day.


Information regarding free lunches and snacks for students (document may need a pdf reader to view).

PDF DocumentLunch and breakfast distribution information


Update from Superintendent Vaughn White on March 13, 2020.

Dear Parents and the Hesperia Community,

I am writing with an update regarding the COVID 19 virus and what is known at this point regarding this ever-changing matter.

* Hesperia Community Schools will not be in session from Monday, March 16th through April 5th via the Governor's mandate.

* Hesperia Community Schools will have Spring Break from April 6th through April 12th unless mandated differently by the State.  Students and staff would return on April 13th.

* There are to be no events, activities, or practices on the HCS premises during this time.

* Cleaning and disinfecting in the building will continue to occur during this period.

* We are reviewing food distribution options for students but it is too early to clarify if or when this will take place.  In the meantime, if you have a critical food shortage, please contact the Hesperia Methodist Church at 854-5345 from 1 to 3 p.m. daily.

* It is yet too early to know anything regarding events scheduled in April.

This is such a difficult and challenging time for us.  I know we all can work together to get through this as we are a strong community of giving, caring people.  I will continue to communicate through Skylert with postings on Facebook and our webpage as new information is presented or clarifications need to be made.

Best Regards,

Vaughn White

Superintendent


 

The information below was sent home with students as a letter from the superintendent on March 3, 2019.

With the increased intensity of news reports and social media posts regarding the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID19), comes speculation about the impact this virus may eventually have on school communities. It is important for you to know the most accurate and timely information about this health concern.

1. The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has published a Fact Sheet to explain what the virus is, how it is spread, who is at risk, and how to protect yourself.

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdhhs/nCOV-2019_General_Fact_Sheet_v2-4-20_680266_7.pdf

2. There is also a CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) Frequently Asked Questions document that specifically addresses concerns about children and the virus. It explains that so far there is no evidence to suggest that children are more susceptible to the virus than the general population.

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/children-faq.html

3. Additional updates (including current case information for Michigan) can be found at the MDHHS COVID19 website (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services website).

https://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-73970_5093_28508_76849-520225--,00.html

As always, our schools work closely with public health officials and follow all of their expert recommendations to best ensure the safety of everyone in our school community.

As you know learning at our school primarily occurs inside classrooms with face-to-face teaching by certified instructors. Any guidance on recovering the learning that may be lost during a potential school closing will come from the Michigan Department of Education. In the meantime, be assured that our schools are prepared to intensify cleaning practices throughout our buildings and will follow all directions provided by public health to prevent and limit the virus.

According to public health officials, the way COVID-19 is spread is very similar to the flu and common colds. For this reason, we are encouraging our students and staff to use the same precautions they would normally take to avoid these illnesses. Please encourage the following practices at home as we do in school to help prevent illness.

  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.

Parents are encouraged to keep sick children at home for at least 24 hours after their fever is broken without the benefit of medication and contact their healthcare provider.

We have open and effective lines of communication with our public health officials and will alert students, staff and parents if we receive direction related to COVID-19. Any potential school closing due to illness will be guided by public health officials. While education is important, the health and wellbeing of our students and staff are far more significant.