08/06/2020 Letter from the Superintendent

Dear Royal Oak Schools Families, 

At a workshop meeting of the Board of Education on July 29, the Royal Oak Schools team presented their recommendations for our return to school which I shared last week. In an effort to bring students back for some in-person learning, we created a K-8 schedule that would reduce class sizes using alternating days of attendance for half of the students at a time, and would provide online assignments and resources on the remote days. That plan included extensive cleaning and social distancing measures in the schools, and mandatory facial coverings for all staff and students. Students would gather in cohort groups/homeroom classrooms, limiting transitions and contact in the hallways. These hybrid plans are thorough, and will be used in the future when we decide to return to the school buildings. 

However, we do not believe this is the best plan for September 2020.

After much discussion at a special meeting of the Board on August 6, I recommended that we start the school year fully remote for K-8 through the end of the first quarter, November 6, 2020. That plan was approved by a vote of the Board of Education. ROHS will continue with the remote plan they had already recommended.  The Fall 2020 remote learning plan will look very different from the online learning that took place in the spring.  This fall, all students will be engaged in rigorous lessons based on state standards and engage in our regular assessment program.  All students will receive their report card at the end of each marking period. The week will include many opportunities for students to engage with their teacher and peers online in both recorded and live lessons with their class.  

The decision to move to a remote schedule was based on a number of factors. It has become apparent that a high number of medical and health related protocols still need to be addressed, leaving less time for staff to devote to teaching and learning needs. These outstanding health concerns include detailed reporting  protocols when COVID-19 positive cases and/or exposure to positive cases are reported by staff and students - when and who to notify, how frequent the notifications are needed, and when closure or quarantine protocols get triggered.  The lack of clear direction and guidance from the health department on these issues leaves educators to navigate them, which we are not qualified to do.  We also know that attempts to open large group activities in other venues across our state and country have resulted in exposure to positive cases, forcing the events/activities to be suspended, postponed or canceled. Cases continue to rise in our area, and the areas where our staff and families live and work. 

We will need to communicate how this shift might impact the schedules for other programs in the district including special education classes and services, food service, Churchill, Adult Education, Addams ECC programs and OSTC.  We will be communicating those details as quickly as possible. 

In the weeks leading up to November, we will also continue to assess the health conditions, and review guidance from the health department.  We will also determine if a return to the classrooms can occur after November 6. The phases issued by the governor will also be monitored because if we move to Phases 1-3 in our region, face to face instruction would not be allowed for any schools. 

 Virtual Academy: 

We envision that most parents and students will participate in our remote learning plan as approved by the Board of Education on August 6  - remain scheduled in their own classrooms and schools, taking advantage of the synchronous and asynchronous opportunities along with their peers during the traditional school day.  Now that our K-8 plan is a fully remote option, our preference would be that most families remain with this schedule. There is no need for parents to indicate a desire to participate in this core plan. 

Royal Oak Schools will offer a Virtual Academy which we have previously communicated. This program has always been intended to meet the needs of some families who have unique conditions to consider. These families are committing to a full semester of online education with no desire to return to the classroom during that time, regardless of the district’s main delivery model.  That is unchanged. The program will utilize a third-party product approved by the Board last evening called Accelerate, and be facilitated by a Royal Oak Schools staff member. 

If  you would like a guarantee that your child will remain in a remote setting for the first semester which ends in January, 2021, please complete our Virtual Academy enrollment survey here:  

Link for Virtual Academy Survey

Additional FAQ documents and details can be found at here, Virtual Academy FAQ to better understand the VA option.  

At-home Technology:

If you are in need of a Chromebook device for your child(ren), please use this survey link to request a device.  We will process those requests and provide you with pick-up information.  

Link for Technology Survey

Royal Oak Youth Assistance:

ROYA offers emergency needs grants for families who live in the community or have their children in Royal Oak Schools.  Grants are $200 per child and are available for basic needs including groceries, rent, mortgage, utilities, clothing, and medical needs.  Please call 248.219.6502 or email Nancy Minckler for additional information.  We are fortunate to have this valuable resource for our families.  

We recognize that our response to this crisis causes families to make tough decisions.  Royal Oak Schools remains at the heart of this community and we are committed to serve and support you in the coming school year. 

Mary Beth Fitzpatrick, Superintendent

Return to School Roadmap Questions

On Wednesday, July 29 at 6:00 PM, a special virtual Board of Education Workshop was held to discuss the return to school plans. Our district teams made recommendations to the Board based on the Return to School Roadmap issued by the governor to consider all of the components of our school year. The discussion covered District Protocols, Building and Facilities, Wellness, Curriculum and Instruction, Extra-Curricular Activities, LatchKey and Childcare, Special Education, Technology, and Transportation.

While multiple plans need to be created depending upon the phases our region is operating under at any point in the year, the Board did provide direction for the district to proceed with schedules for the school year.  

If you have additional questions, please use this form

Thank you in advance for your contribution.