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  • James Townsend

PPS Superintendent shares information on MI Return to School Roadmap

In an email sent to parents on June 30th, PPS Superintendent Will Heath updated parents on the local response to Governor Gretchen Whitmer's recently released MI Return to School Roadmap.

Heath's message is provided below.


This afternoon Governor released the Return to School Roadmap which can be found at this link: MI Safe School: Michigan’s 2020-21 Return to School Roadmap

Now that the State's plan is released the district will need to review and get feedback from the County Health Department and our neighboring school districts. It will be important for us to be consistent, to the extent possible, with at least the Ionia County Schools. Don't get me wrong, we will do what is best for Portland, but we need the opportunity to work with other superintendents to make sure that we are at least interpreting the State’s Plan in the same manner as well as develop similar frameworks that still have enough local control for our community. This will save a lot of headaches in the fall.

As required, PPS will develop three different plans for educating students that correspond with the phases outlined in the MI Safe Start Plan. We are currently in phase 4 of this plan. Our educational model throughout next year school year will be dictated by our regions phase at that time. In the Return to School Roadmap there are several “required” items that the district will implement. These are required as the name suggests and we do not have a choice in implementing them. There are also many “strongly recommended” and “recommended” items. We will take into account all of the recommended items and implement as many as we feasibly can implement. There may be areas where these items are not possible.

Time is always a critical piece in planning. We are fortunate to have some time to develop and review our plan before making it official. This is unlike our planning process that was completed in early spring. I fully know that everyone wants to know “what school will look like in the fall” now that the State’s plan is released. The district needs some time to make sure that our plan will be effective for the vast majority of our community. Rushing a plan now will only make things more difficult in the fall. Our original date to notify families of our plan was the first week in August. I am hopeful that we will be able to communicate our plan before that date. Some districts will be out first with their plan while others will take a few more days to develop. My goal for the district isn’t to be first with a plan and instead to develop the most effective plan even if that is a slower process. As soon as we have the general structure of each of our plans in place I will notify all of our parents.

We learned a lot from our COVID shutdown. Our planning and implementation was a success and we should take what we learned into our planning for the fall. There are four specific points that stood out during this time:

  1. Communication - Consistent and clear to all stakeholders

  2. Teamwork - We can do more if we help each other

  3. Setting Realistic Expectations - For Staff, Students, and Parents

  4. Consistency Across the District - Decreases confusion and frustrations for all

Those four items were critical in our plan and resulted in our success. We will keep all four front and center during our planning for this fall. I have heard from many of you about what you would like school to look like in the fall. The only consistency is that not everyone agrees on what it should look like. We will develop lines of communication and ways to provide feedback once we have had the time to put our framework together with what is allowed and required in the Return to School Roadmap. Please watch for that communication. Our intent is to work with all of our parents to do what we can to provide an appropriate education for all of our students.

Have a great Independence Day weekend!

William Heath


Portland Public Schools

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