Crawford AuSable School District set to wind down school year as scheduled
Tue, 05/26/2020 - 1:34pm caleb
Dan Sanderson | Staff Writer
There will be no gathering of teachers and school staff waving to students as they leave the Grayling Elementary School at the end of the school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Schools were last in session on Friday, March 13, the last day students were in their classrooms for a half a day.
The Grayling Viking Distant Learning program was rolled out to students and families after Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer issued an executive order on Tuesday, April 2, announcing the suspension of in-person K-12 instruction for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year to stop the spread of coronavirus, a highly contagious respiratory disease.
Crawford AuSable School District Superintendent Justin Gluesing said the traditional school year will end as planned on Friday, June 12. The Extended Learning Year, offered only at the Grayling Elementary School, will be done on Friday, June 26.
Instead of holding tradition end of school year activities, students and families will bring their Chromebooks and computers back to the school, and they will get items which were kept in their lockers.
Paraprofessionals and support staff at each of the school buildings have cleaned out the materials from the lockers and bagged them or put them in boxes for return, Gluesing said.
The students and families will be able to pick up the items curbside on the last two days of the respective school year.
Students and families have adjusted to the virtual learning program to get through the school year, although they have faced some glitches due to the lack of cell phone signals and Wi-Fi in rural areas in Crawford County.
“Overall, we have had good participation,” Gluesing said.
School officials commended the students and families for honing their organizational skills as they continued in an at-home setting.
“Everybody’s day has been disrupted significantly and just staying organized with things and staying on top of the material and going through it presents some unique challenges,” Gluesing said. “I think we’ve done very well with the program. I think we all learned a lot and I think our families too are learning a lot about what distance learning may be like.”
Bond issues, approved by school district voters, allowed for the investment in technology before COVID-19 impacted the nation.
That has put leaders of school districts in neighboring areas in envy of resources and programs provided to students in Crawford County.
“They struggled to engage their students at a level they would have liked,” Gluesing said. “We were well positioned and we were making plans before we knew we were going to be closed permanently to get those devices into the hands of students.”
Whitmer established the Return to Learn Council this month to determine how schools will open in the fall.
Gluesing said he hopes the information will be submitted to school leaders by early summer. He added that the district’s Great Lakes Online Education, which offer on line educational instruction, and having the one-to-one devices will be helpful if classrooms cannot be reopened or in a modified setting.
“We’re positioned to adjust to whatever the requirements are as we move into fall,” he said.
Seniors at the Grayling High School had their last day of virtual classes on Friday, May 22.
Grayling High School Principal Sarah Allen and Erin Krabill, the class advisors, placed signs in all seniors’ yards last week to recognize their achievement.
“We so wish them well,” Gluesing said.
Gluesing said he has received a lot of positive feedback on how staff have been flexible, responsive to questions, and were able talk with parentss and children about their assignments.
Ending his first year with the district, Gluesing said overcoming the challenges presented by the pandemic confirms his beliefs the Crawford AuSable School District in a topnotch district in the region and state.
“It’s been an interesting first year, but if anything it reaffirms my belief in what a great district we have here,” he said. “I think in moments like this with the challenges that we are faced with, those qualities that you need to be successful shine through. The only way this can be successful is by all of us giving a good faith effort on both sides to make it possible.”