By Charles Sercombe
Hamtramck public schools are getting ready to welcome back students.
But it will be done only a few students at a time, starting March 2.
At a recent School Board meeting, the board agreed to what is being called a “Reconfirmation Plan.”
That plan calls for opening classrooms first to students who are just learning the English language, and then expanding next to special education students. According to the district, about 85 percent of Hamtramck students live in households where English is not first language spoken.
There are over 2,000 students in the district who are learning how to speak and read English. A little over 3,000 students total are enrolled in the district.
The next group is what is now being called “at-promise” students, who were formally grouped under what was once termed “at-risk.”
These are students who have poor attendance, or who do not engage in their lessons.
“We need to open our schools for the students with the greatest need,” said Superintendent Jaleelah Ahmed. “Some need direct instruction. A gradual plan is a safe plan.”
Parents of these students have a right to turn down the offer for their children to return to schools.
At the beginning of the meeting, the board heard from several students and parents who said they want in-classroom learning to return.
Students say they miss going to school, and complain that virtual learning is not effective.
Not everyone is on board with returning.
Michelle Cook, the president of the Hamtramck teachers’ union, said teachers were largely left out in the planning process, and there are concerns that, while teachers received COVID vaccinations, the students have not.
“Plans shared with us left us with more questions,” Cook said.
The risk of COVID is still relatively high in Hamtramck, according to Wayne County health statistics.
However, the number of COVID cases in the county has been coming down, as well as in Hamtramck.
Those students who are returning will be there only Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and will go home after lunch.
At Hamtramck High School, this beginning stage will bring back only 100 students at first. There are over 1,000 students enrolled at the high school.
For those needing bus service, that will be provided.
Students will be spaced apart by at least six-feet while in classrooms. They will be required to wear masks, and teachers will be wearing face shields.
Board President Jihan Aiyash said she was satisfied with the district’s plan.
“We’re not gambling with people’s lives,” she said.
Hamtramck isn’t alone in adopting a plan for gradually bringing back students. Schools across the state, and nation, are taking similar steps.
Students have been out of school since last March, and have been learning through virtual instruction via laptops that the district provided for all households with students.
Posted Feb. 19, 2021