By Charles Sercombe
With the new school year starting for Hamtramck Public School students, we asked district Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed to give an overview of what to expect with the coronavirus pandemic still spreading.
As you likely already know, this school year will largely be a continuation of at-home learning.
Here is part one of our interview with the superintendent.
The Review: Briefly, please recap the plans for school this fall.
Superintendent Ahmed: For the 2020-2021 school year, HPS will be implementing virtual learning for the majority of students and learning labs for our most at-risk learners.
All HPS students will have access to our high-quality instructional staff and curriculum, as well as a multi-tiered system of support that includes a focus on social and emotional well-being as well as necessary technology devices needed to support learning.
The Review: Will students be able to go to their school at any time during the school day for help/assistance? Do they have to make an appointment? Will teachers and support staff be at the schools?
Superintendent Ahmed: Currently, the majority of HPS students are participating in virtual learning. They are being supported by our excellent staff, and while we are not offering in-person assistance at this time, students and families can always connect with their teacher or principal for additional help.
Our team of Parent Liaisons is also available to assist. Each HPS school building will host learning labs for students with greatest need, including students with IEPs and 504s, English Language Learners and newcomer students.
Teachers facilitating the learning labs will be at the schools, as well as necessary support staff. The majority of our teachers are instructing from their homes at this time.
The Review: What about special needs students (including those with learning disabilities and behavioral issues)?
Superintendent Ahmed: We will do our best to meet the goals outlined in IEP’s. Learning labs will be used as a way to provide supplemental, in-person instruction for students with IEPs, 504s, EL 1 and newcomer students. Invitations will be sent to these students, who, if they are comfortable attending, will be provided an in-person schedule.
The Review: And what about those students who are still learning the English language? What is the plan for them?
Superintendent Ahmed: Our team of parent liaisons worked through the summer to ensure our EL families had access to resources and technology. We recently held an in-person orientation to help our families navigate the challenges of remote learning.
Additionally, newcomers and EL students are eligible to participate in our learning labs where they will receive in-person instruction.
The Review: Talk about how students can get breakfast and lunch.
Superintendent Ahmed: Our Eat Up and Meet Up program is continuing at multiple locations throughout the community; families should contact their principal or school staff for exact times and pick-up locations. We are providing breakfast and lunch meals in various locations. We are also seeking to move to a 7-day meal program, which will provide students with three breakfast and lunch meals on Fridays.
The Review: How will the district conduct its yearly headcount?
Superintendent Ahmed: Governor Gretchen Whitmer signed into law Public Acts 147, 148, and 149. Under these new laws, Hamtramck Public Schools will demonstrate student membership accordingly.
Satisfying the membership requirement through a count day method is dependent upon the type of schedule that a student will maintain throughout the 20-21 school year.
Our pupil accounting department is working with Wayne RESA and the Michigan Department of Education to ensure that membership requirements are satisfied for students in grades K-12 who are enrolled at Hamtramck Public Schools.
The Review: What is the plan for the winter semester?
Superintendent Ahmed: As always, the health and safety of our students, teachers and staff is our top priority. At this time, we are monitoring the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and currently evaluating plans for the winter semester.
We are continuing to utilize guidance from the CDC, the State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Education in the creation of our winter semester plans. Our planning will continue to be led by the HPS Budget and Restart Team, which includes parents, teachers, staff members, administrators and members of the HPS leadership team.
(Come back next week for the second part of our conversation with Superintendent Ahmed.)
Sept. 11, 2020