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Question and Answer

July 30 Update

What will school look like in the fall?
The reopening plans were presented to the Utica Community Schools Board of Education at a special meeting on July 29. The Board will make its final determination on August 10 and our plan will be submitted to the Macomb Intermediate School District. 

There are currently two options available:

  • Option 1 - Face-to-face instruction in the fall with the ability to go to remote instruction, if necessary.
  • Option 2 - For those parents who are hesitant to have their children return to a physical classroom, or for those whose children are medically fragile, we will also offer fully online instruction by certified Utica Community Schools teachers. 
We are closely monitoring state and local recommendations in regard to COVID-19 and have the capacity to rapidly shift instructional models if necessary. Gov. Whitmer’s Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap has been used as a guide to assist in planning for the new year. Multiple pathways have been considered depending on the severity of COVID-19. The plans detail the district offerings based on the state designated phase:
Phases 1-3 
Phase 4
Phase 5
Phase 6

Will my child be safe receiving in-person instruction?
We are committed to ensuring that all of our students and staff have a safe and healthy learning environment. UCS will continue to follow best practices for providing personal protective equipment (PPE), implementing social distancing where possible, requiring frequent handwashing and use of sanitizers, frequently cleaning and disinfecting facilities and restricting visitors. Those protocols are listed on the COVID-19 response sheets. 

Are there social distancing requirements as part of the plan?
While social distancing is not among the requirements of the Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, the district has put in place procedures that will minimize interactions between individuals and create spacing where possible. 

Are masks required?
Under the phase 1-3, instruction will occur remotely.  In phase 4, masks are required to be worn K-12 in classrooms, hallways, common areas and on UCS buses.  Masks should be worn by all students in K-6 unless students remain with their classes throughout the school day and do not come into close contact with students in another class. 
In phase 5, face coverings may be worn by students and staff.  Masks are used to reduce the possibility of transmission and protect the health and safety of our students and staff. According to the State of Michigan, if one person is not wearing a mask, the possibility of transmission to another individual is 70 percent – even if that person has a mask. If both are wearing a mask, the possibility of transmission is 1.5 percent. 

How will the curriculum differ between face-to-face instruction, the transition to remote learning or the UCS Virtual Academy?
All instructional delivery models have parallel offerings in that they use existing UCS approved curriculum. The curriculum being used in all pathways is what is currently taught in traditional UCS classrooms. 

If a change is made to remote instruction, will it be the same as the remote instruction that occurred during the school closure this past spring?
No. A series of staff committees representing teachers and administrators have created an instructional model for teachers and K-12 students. This model includes greater consistency in expectations and communication strategies for all teachers to use if the district transitioned to remote learning. Students will continue to use Schoology as the district’s learning platform with a single sign-in process to access the apps and resources used by their classroom teacher. All students will receive a device this school year, regardless of the COVID-19 state designation phase. 

Will children enrolled in the UCS Virtual Academy (UVA) receive the same level of instruction as those students returning to the classroom?
The two possible alternatives to learning this fall – face-to-face with the ability to transition to remote learning and the UCS Virtual Academy – have parallel curriculums. The curriculums use the district’s rigor and standards of our existing courses and have been modified by UCS teachers to meet the unique features of the instructional vehicle. Each path will help students meet the Michigan Academic Standards and use the district approved curriculum. 

All students will receive individualized instruction from our certified Utica Community Schools teachers. Our teachers and staff are selflessly dedicated to providing an excellent education, whether in-person or via UVA.

For more information on the virtual option, please see this website

What will I do if my child has difficulty with the technology involved in UVA or remote instruction? 
UCS will provide technical support to all students regardless of mode of instruction. Teachers will also receive training so that they are familiar with students’ learning tools and can provide assistance. All students will be receiving a district-issued device to support learning that are pre-loaded with the apps needed for their coursework. 

Will students be receiving letter grades this year? 
Yes. Under any option, letter grades for assignments, the quarter and the semester will be issued to students. 

Will students engaged in remote learning still receive access to mental and social health services?
Yes, a full array of services will be provided to all UCS students by our teachers, counselors, and support staff. The district will also continue to provide professional development to teachers on ways to support their students’ mental health and well-being. 

What is the difference between remote learning and the Virtual Academy?
Remote learning would occur if the severity of COVID-19 grew and the district needed to transition from face-to-face learning. 

In remote learning, UCS students are being taught by their classroom teacher but are not in the same physical location; teachers are using technology to deliver lessons. 

In the UCS Virtual Academy, students are enrolled in a 100% on-line learning environment that parallels the district’s rigorous curriculum and is taught by a UCS teacher. 

How will the current reopening model impact the band and choral programs?
In phases four and five, extra-curricular programs are available to students following appropriate guidelines for health and safety. 

How will students with Individualized Education Plans (IEP) be affected?
Utica Community Schools will provide face-to-face instruction to students with disabilities that will be consistent with their Individualized Education Plan(IEP), and Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP).   If schools are closed to face-to-face instruction, we will work to provide equal access to any alternative modes of instruction to students with disabilities from birth to age 26.  

Each of our students with disabilities have unique needs.  We recognize that the student’s IEP and IFSP is to be reviewed to consider:
Goals and Objectives
Supplementary Aids and Supports 
Options Considered with Procedural Safeguards provided

IEP and IFSP teams will include parent input to develop and implement, as appropriate, changes to the student’s special education program.  

Will there continue to be breakfast/lunch distribution?
Under all possible state-designated phases, food distribution will continue for students. 

What happens if the number of cases in Michigan spike?
If a spike occurs, we are prepared to respond to a possible change. We have the capacity and infrastructure in place to quickly shift from face-to-face instruction to remote education. Children will continue to be instructed by their own teachers to ensure the best possible educational outcomes. Relationships matter and we are committed to developing these whether by face-to-face instruction or remote learning.

What happens if there is an outbreak at UCS?
If there are cases of COVID-19 diagnosed with staff or students at UCS we will follow local, state and federal guidelines to deal with the virus. The district will consult with the Macomb County Health Department and caregivers will be informed if their child is directly impacted by an infection. Depending on the number of students affected, decisions will be made whether to make a shift to remote learning. The district will be in close communication with the community.

What are important considerations being used by the district as they plan for the school year?
The guiding principles used to develop the Return to School plans are:

  • Decisions will be made in the best interest of each student based on their social-emotional and academic development.
  • The plan will promote and maintain the health and well-being of all students, staff, and families.
  • There will be a continued focus to ensure equity and access for all students as we provide the learning experiences and resources necessary to meet or exceed state and national academic standards.
  • Recommendations and decisions will reflect the most effective and efficient use of human resources, material, times and financial resources.
  • All aspects of a recommendation and a decision must be sustainable in the short term and the long term.
  • The district will follow all parameters of existing collective bargaining agreements.
  • The plan will allow the district the flexibility to transition to different learning models based on severity of COVID-19.