Back-to-School Hub
Back-to-School Hub
Posted on 12/16/2020

SPS Families,
Our Back-to-School 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).
Art Ebert and Nicole Airgood on behalf of the SPS Back-to-School Team

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


How do I go about signing my children up for Option A or B, switching from Option A to B, or switching from Option B to A?

Please contact the appropriate building principal listed below.

Transitions between Options are not allowed for the rest of the Second Semester 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).

Congress Elementary School - Principal Vince LaPorte
Wall Elementary School - Principal Harmonee McCrea
Wenzel Elementary School - Principal Vince LaPorte
Eastwood Elementary School - Principal Mike Miller
Sturgis Middle School - Principal Jimmy Lamb
Sturgis High School - Principal Nick Herblet
eCademy - Principal Jeannine Koeneke

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.

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.

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. We are currently in Phase 4 for School Reopening.

In Phase 4, how will I know if my Option A middle school and high school children as supposed to attend school per the hybrid (every-other-day) schedule of the fully in-person (every-day) schedule?

Our Option A middle school and high school students are currently attending under the every-other-day hybrid schedule. We will remain on the hybrid schedule (when in Phase 4) until February 19th unless the 7-day average of COVID-19 cases across St. Joseph County dips to 8.5 cases per day or less. If that threshold is met, all Option A middle school and high school students will attend fully in-person school five full-days per week. They will remain attending fully in-person school unless (while in Phase 4) the county-wide 7-day average case count hits 10 cases per day or more. At that point, we would transition back to an every-other-day hybrid schedule at the middle and high school level. On February 22nd, we will transition all Option A middle school and high school students to fully in-person school five days per week. We selected this date to fully return to in-person school, because it is 10-days after the second dose for the school staff that elected to get a COVID-19 vaccination.

In Phase 4, how will I know what days my Option A 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, Option A secondary students (grades 6-12) may be attending school every-other-day. What will the at-home virtual days look like?

Students will be given assignments, activities, assessments, and projects during their in-person days to complete during their at-home virtual days. While students will not be streamed-live with their teachers, they should expect to spend their normal school hours completing these items. There may be times (teacher discretion) that teachers engage students on their at-home in live Group Chats during their normally schedule class period.

In Phase 4, why do Option A elementary students (grades K-5) report every day and (at times) 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, music, art, and physical education in Phase 4 (the tech special will be taught in the classroom by the specials teacher). Elementary students will transition to recess and all specials 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, what are the new 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?

Families will need to arrange transportation to athletic practices on virtual days. We are unable to transport students on virtual learning days to and from athletic practices due to social distancing constraints put on our bus fleet when driving students on our normal bus routes.

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.

How can I support my Option B (School-from-Home) child?

Click here for a virtual school resource center for families.

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 Edgenuity or 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 Edgenuity (Grades K-5) and Odysseyware (Grades 6-12) provide online courses that delivers non-SPS K-12 curriculum. Both of which are aligned to state and national standards. By utilizing Edgenuity and 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 Edgenuity and Odysseyware. This way, they can give their full support and attention to their School-from-Home students.

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

While they are not perfectly aligned, district staff will work with families to select Edgenuity (Grades K-5) and Odysseyware (Grade 6-12) 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?

K-5 students will not be using Odysseyware. The district has purchased Edgenuity for all K-5 School-from-Home students. Edgenuity includes both core and elective K-5 courses.

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. Please see the State of Michigan Managing Communicable Diseases in Schools document for guidance on when students with symptoms may return to school.

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 the August 14, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the August 20, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the September 3, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the September 11, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the November 15, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the November 18, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the December 18, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the December 23, 2020 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the January 13, 2021 statement from the MHSAA.
Click here to read the January 14, 2021 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.

How can I order a school lunch for my School-from-Home (Option B) student or my secondary Back-to-School (option A) student on virtual days?

Click here to learn more.

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.