Back-to-School Hub
Back-to-School Hub
Posted on 07/20/2020

SPS Families,
We have missed you and are excited about the possibility of seeing students in our schools again.
Thank you for your patience as we crafted our Back-to-School Plan. The plan is aligned with Michigan's Return to School Roadmap, and customized for our unique needs here in Sturgis. This process was accomplished through a team of stakeholders that conducted research; collaborated with the health department as well as local school districts; and utilized survey data from students, parents, and staff to guide recommendations.

We are proud to present you with a plan that is safe, provides meaningful learning, and presents you with two learning Options to select from. We understand that every family has varying needs and comfort levels with regards to in-person learning, and we are committed to supporting you with either our Back-to-School offering (Option A) or our School-from-Home offering (Option B).
Additionally, we are hearing that some families that select Option B may want to transition to Option A in Phase 5, Phase 6, or when there is a vaccine. We understand this, and will reserve a spot in our classrooms for every student enrolled through Option B, so that your child can return to in-person learning should you desire that transition at some point during the school year (please read our FAQ section below for details regarding when and how transitions may occur).
We understand that selecting an Option for your children is an important decision that will take time. Please take your time to look through the information provided below, ask any questions that you may have through the FAQ link below, and click here if you have not yet made your selection with regards to the Option that you will be registering each child for.
Art Ebert and Nicole Airgood on behalf of the SPS Back-to-School Team

Click here to view our Back-to-School Plan Overview.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please click here, if you have a question that you would like added to the FAQ section of our Back-to-School Hub.

How do I go about signing my children up for Option A or B for the 2020-21 school year?

Click here to make your selection. Click here to view an overview of the two Options.

When do I have to sign my children up for either Option A or B by?

Please make your selection as soon as possible. We appreciate your help with this, which will provide us ample time to properly plan for the 2020-21 school year.

Can I select different Options for different children?

Yes, please select the Option that best fits both your comfort level and the individualized learning needs of each child.

I have submitted an FAQ question and don't see it listed on the FAQ page. How can I get my question answered.

We are appreciative for the volume of questions that we have received. Your feedback and questions are helping us to continuously improve our Back-to-School plan. Due to this volume, we are not adding all questions to the page in an effort to help you find the most frequently asked information. If there is information that is important to you, we recommended that you put contact information alongside your FAQ submission, because we are responding directly to all individuals that leave contact information.

Why is the district asking families to select options in July, why not wait and see how things develop?

Sturgis Public Schools is committed to supporting you with safe, compassionate, and meaningful student learning in both Option A and B. School starts on August 24th, which will be here before we know it, and it is essential that we put the proper resources into place to ensure that we deliver on this commitment. To do this, we need to know details at a more precise level than what a survey can provide. Essential information to our planning includes: What students registered for in-person learning, what students registered for School-from-Home learning, what students need transportation services, and what secondary students live in the same household so that we can place them on the same in-person learning days (if we are in Phase 4). We know that these are difficult and important decisions for families, and we appreciate your understanding.

Is this plan set in stone, or will there be flexibility based on our current reality including health department and state recommendations?

This is a fluid plan, and we will be updating it as we learn more, receive feedback from stakeholders, and get updates from the state and health department. Having said that, the main pillars of the plan will not likely change. It is the details within the plan that we are likely to tweak and improve as we go.

How do we know what Phase we are in?

The Phases (determined by the State of Michigan) are part of Governor Whitmer's School Reopening Plan. It appears that the six School Reopening Phases may not be fully aligned with the State's six Risk Levels. We believe (even though the Kalamazoo Region is in Level 3) that we are currently in Phase 4 for School Reopening, and are seeking clarification from the State of Michigan. We will update this answer after we have learned more from the state.

In Phase 4, how will I know what days my middle school and high school children are supposed to attend school?

If we are in Phase 4, the district's website calendar (linked here) will indicate what students are to report on each school day. Students will be divided alphabetically by last name, and students from the same household will all be placed on the same schedule.

In Phase 4, why do elementary students (grades K-5) report every day and secondary students (grades 6-12) report every-other-day?

We prioritized bringing elementary aged students back five days per week based on developmental needs and feedback from families. Our hope was to bring secondary students back, in Phase 4, five days per week as well. We decided against that based on how frequently secondary students co-mingle due to the complexity of secondary schedules (e.g. hallway congestion between courses and the fact that they are scheduled with up to seven different teachers most with different groupings of students from various grade-levels). In Phases 5 and 6, all students (grades K-12) report five days per week.

Will my child be in the same classroom all day (In Option A)?

It depends on the Phase that we are in and what grade level your child is in. Elementary students (Grades K-5) will transition to recess and physical education in Phase 4 (all other specials will be taught in the classroom by the specials teacher). Elementary students will transition to recess and all specials (art, music, physical education, etc...) in Phase 5. Elementary students will transition to recess, all specials, and the cafeteria in Phase 6. Secondary Students (Grades 6-12) will transition to all classes in Phases 4 and 5, and to all classes and the cafeteria in Phase 6.

Will my child be stuck at their desk all day (In Option A)?

Teachers may utilize strategies such: Having students get up, move, and engage in brain breaks; taking students out for an extra recess; conducting instruction outside; and/or using assigned carpet squares, pillows, etc… in place of sitting directly on the floor. We are confident that our staff will think outside of the box and find creative solutions to engage our students socially, physically, and academically.

Will I be able to visit the school or volunteer in my child's classroom as a parent (in Option A)?

In Phases 4 and 5, family members or other guests are not allowed in the school building except under extenuating circumstances determined by district and school officials. Having said that, family members may drop-off and pick-up items from the main office. In Phase 6, family members and other guests may return to the school as they have in the past.

With the district transitioning to two bus runs, when will families know school start and end times?

School start and end times can be viewed by clicking here. The instructional day is slightly shorter for the 2020-21 school year to account for health and safety logistics such as morning classroom supervision, lunch in classrooms, and cleaning routines. If you are eligible for bus transportation and need to change your bus preference from No to Yes or Yes to No based on these times; please submit a new Back-to-School Registration and we will make the change for you in the system.

I am considering selecting Option B (School-from-Home), can students participate in after-school activities and athletics if enrolled in Option B?

Yes, unlike traditional home-school, district run School-from-Home options are required to allow students to participate in after-school activities and athletics when we are in Phases 4 through 6.

How will Option A students get to athletic practices on their virtual learning days when in Phase 4?

We are currently working out a solution for this, and will update this answer after we have developed it.

I am considering selecting Option B (School-from-Home), how will students participate in electives like band and orchestra if enrolled in Option B?

There are two options (1) your child can be enrolled in online Music Appreciation or Music Theory through Odysseyware and supplement it by practicing their instrument at home, or (2) your child can be dropped-off before and picked-up after band or orchestra class to participate in-person.

If I select Option B (School-from-Home), how will my child be scheduled for coursework? 

If you select Option B, an SPS staff member will contact you, provide you with course options, and work with you to schedule the appropriate classes.

In Option B (School-from-Home), will my child be live with a teacher for the full school day?

Unlike distance learning in the Spring, School-from-Home will contain equivalent rigor and work to what you would expect during in-person learning. Having said that, the instruction will not be live. An SPS staff member will be assigned to support your child by launching assignments, activities, and assessments. They will also be available via phone, email, and video conference to answer questions and help pace your child and keep them on-track.

Why doesn't Option A (the Back-to-School Plan) allow for any in-person learning in Phase 1-3?

The State of Michigan requires all schools (public, private, and charter) to be closed for in-person learning in Phase 1-3.

Why doesn't Option A (the Back-to-School Plan) utilize Odysseyware in Phase 1-3 during virtual learning?

We are able to provide students and families with a much more seamless experience and sequential delivery of essential standards by utilizing our curriculum, lessons, activities, and assessments when navigating between the various Phases of Option A (the Back-to-School Plan).

Why doesn't Option B (School-from-Home) utilize Google Classroom?

When utilizing Google Classroom, SPS classroom teachers deliver SPS K-12 curriculum, while Odysseyware provides online courses that delivers non-SPS K-12 curriculum. Both of which are aligned to state and national standards. By utilizing Odysseyware for School-from-Home students, our classroom teachers can give their full support and attention to their Back-to-School students. To support School-from-Home students, we will assign SPS staff (who are not assigned to a classroom) to work with and guide School-from-Home students utilizing Odysseyware. This way, they can give their full support and attention to their School-from-Home students.

Am I able to switch my child from Option A to B or from Option B to A?

Yes, however we are cautioning families against switching more than once or twice. Transitions between instructional settings and curriculum delivery systems can be difficult and feel overwhelming for students. Transitions between now and August 23rd can be made by submitting a new registration form (linked here). Transitions between the first day of school (August 24th) and the end of September can be made by contacting your building principal to work out an appropriate transition date. Transitions between October 1st and the end of the January are not allowed unless there is approval given by the building principal under extenuating circumstances. Additionally, we will pause the transition process between Options anytime that the State or Michigan requires all learning to be from home (e.g. during Phases 1-3).

How seamless will the transition be for students moving from Option B (utilizing Odysseyware) to Option A (utilizing SPS curriculum).

While they are not perfectly aligned, district staff will work with families to select Odysseyware courses that best align with SPS written curriculum. Additionally, teachers will work with students to ensure as smooth of a transition as possible. This is no different than when a students moves into the district mid-year.

I am considering Option B (School-from-Home) and am noticing that Odysseyware has many secondary options but limited K-5 curriculum. How will the district ensure that School-from-Home K-5 students have access to all of the content areas that Option A (Back-to-School) students have?

The district is in the process of purchasing an online curriculum for K-5 School-from-Home students that includes language arts, mathematics, science, social studies, health and physical education, technology, music, and art. We will communicate the details as soon as we have navigated the competitive bid process.

Why is the district requiring facial coverings for K-12 students in Phases 4 and 5?

Our goal is to keep students in school now that in-person school is allowable. Facial coverings are one of the strategies that we are employing to keep students safe, contain the virus, and minimize disruption to in-person learning. We are hopeful that our collective efforts will reduce the number of staff and students that are sent home for two weeks should there be exposure to COVID-19. Having said that, facial coverings are not required in Phase 4 during meals, snacks, outside when distancing of six feet or more between individuals can be maintained, during select activities at the K-5 level, in GSRP & ECSE classrooms, and for medical reasons. Furthermore, facial coverings are not required in Phase 5 during meals, snacks, recess, physical education class, when outside, during select activities at the K-5 level, in GSRP & ECSE classrooms, and for medical reasons.

Can face shields be worn in place of facial coverings?

The health department does not allow for substitution of a face shield in place of a facial covering (when facial coverings are required).  Having said that, face shields may be used to accommodate those that are unable to wear a facial covering (per a doctor's note).

Will facial coverings be provided?

Yes, the district has purchased both reusable and disposable facial coverings for staff and students. Having said that, we know that many families will elect to have their child use a facial covering from home, which is a family decision that we will support. Reusable facial coverings must be washed before they are reused.

How does the district determine if a student is exempt from wearing a facial covering for medical reasons?

The district does not make this determination, this is determined by medical professionals starting with a doctor's note. The district will then work with the family to put the proper accommodations in place.

When should I keep my child home from school?

Students with the presence of symptoms including fevers, chills, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, nasal congestion, nausea, diarrhea, loss of taste or smell, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, or a temperature of 100.4 or greater should stay home from school and follow-up with a primary care provider.

What happens if my child or their entire class is sent home for two weeks due to COVID-19 exposure?

The decision of whether or not to send a student or group of students home due to COVID-19 exposure is made on a case-by-case basis by the health department. The district will contact the health department if exposure is suspected or known. If sent home, your child will utilize a school issued Chromebook (if needed) and receive lessons and assignments virtually from their teacher. If your child is in Pre-K through 3rd grade they will utilize Seesaw, while students in 4th Grade through 12th Grade will utilize Google Classroom.

Will the school notify me if my child has been exposed to COVID-19?

Yes, the school will work with the health department and follow their guidance with regards to what individuals will be notified for exposure. Please click here for guidance from our health department.

Will fall athletics occur, or will athletic seasons be changed?

Click here to read a statement from the MHSAA.

Is the KidsCare before- and after-school care program still accepting registrations for Elementary aged students?

Yes, the KidsCare program is accepting registrations for K-5 students from now until August 14th for the 2020-21 school year. The program will be open during Phases 4, 5, and 6. Click here for more information.

Is the district still registering Kindergarten students for the 2020-21 school year?

Yes, click here to learn more.

Is the district still registering Pre-School students for GSRP for the 2020-21 school year?

Yes, click here to learn more.

Are GSRP students able to select Option B?

GSRP is a grant funded program that requires in-person learning for Phases 4, 5, and 6. For this reason, GSRP students are only eligible for Option A and do not need to complete the Back-to-School registration form.

Is the district still enrolling new students that live outside of the district's boundaries?

Yes, students that live outside of district boundaries, but live in St. Joseph County or a contiguous county, may enroll through our School of Choice program. Please contact Karen Stimson at 269-659-1502 to get all of your questions answered and pick up an application packet or request mail delivery. She is located in the District Office at Sturgis Central Commons.

How can I learn more?

Additionally, we have created a spreadsheet (linked here) that includes all state required, strongly recommended, and recommended items organized by Phase 1-3, 4, 5, and 6. This is a fluid document, and we will be updating it as we learn more, receive feedback from stakeholders, and get updates from the state and health department.