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School officials planning for more in-person learning

News Photo by Crystal Nelson Alpena High School Assistant Principal Romeo Bourdage prepares to head into an online meeting Wednesday at the school.

ALPENA — Alpena Public Schools administrators got to work on Wednesday, beginning to figure out the details of how students in grades 6 to 12 will return to face-to-face learning four days a week after spring break.

The APS Board of Education during a board workshop on Tuesday voted unanimously to give secondary students more face-to-face instructional time starting April 5.

“I was amazed the meeting ended (at) 9 o’clock or so last night and by 8 o’clock this morning, we already assembled the entire team,” Superintendent David Rabbideau said on Wednesday. “We’ve known this was coming, potentially, so a lot of the groundwork was already underway.”

Under the new plan, junior high and high school students would attend school on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, but will attend school remotely on Wednesdays. Teachers and district officials would also have Wednesday for planning.

Secondary students currently have face-to-face instruction two days a week and learn remotely three days a week. The students are split into two cohorts and attend school while the other cohort learns remotely. Wednesday is a remote learning day for both cohorts.

The plan doesn’t impact elementary school students, who currently attend school five days a week.

Rabbideau said a lot of the planning consists of behind-the-scenes work, such as making changes to student schedules and to bus routes. He said the number of students on buses would change and likely increase.

Teachers will also be impacted by the transition. Rabbideau said teachers will have to manage two gradebooks per class, two sets of attendance, and two online learning management systems because they cannot be merged into one.

“The biggest thing we’re working on is how we communicate this to family and students,” he said of the transition.

District officials are moving toward more in-person learning because of data that shows students are receiving more D’s and F’s and fewer A’s and B’s than last year. Additionally, school officials have heard from parents, who say their children are struggling and need more support than they are receiving.

Rabbideau said students are able to attend school safely because what health care professionals have learned about COVID-19 has changed and that they’re looking at mitigation strategies very differently than they did in the fall.

Rabbiddeau said he still expects both cohorts of students can return to school safely.

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