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Urgent News

Update Center

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information

Mr. Dan McMinn

Principal

July 1, 2020

Superintendent's Update

Dear Parents/Guardians/Staff and School Community,

NexTech High School of Grand Rapids announced its Return to Learn plan detailing three different scenarios for the 2020-2021 school year.  The full plan can be accessed here. The different scenarios allow students to stay on top of work and maintain contact with teachers in an atmosphere familiar to them, even as the school may be moving from one scenario to the next throughout the school year.

“We will continue to work with state and local government and health officials to develop plans that keep our students’ safety at the forefront of what we do,” said School Leader Dan McMinn. “Being a blended learning environment already allows us to keep class size small, maintain social distancing and allow quick transitions between scenarios from in-person to online with little loss of learning opportunity for students.”

The first scenario, which would be in effect if the region is set at a Phase 4 or above, maintains NexTech’s normal blended learning model with separate morning and afternoon sessions, with additional learning occurring online. Procedures for social distancing and PPE will follow the State of Michigan’s required protocols. Students will be on campus for four hours per day, four days per week as a part of the blended model. Increased social-emotional supports will also be provided to support students with external stressors and prepare them for any necessary scenario transitions.

The second scenario is selected remote learning, which is available for all students with a signed and approved Ed Development Plan. Families who have requested to maintain a virtual learning environment will have the option to keep students at home and maintain all coursework online. Students will work virtually, participating in scheduled classes through remote options. Students may switch between scenarios one and two at any time throughout the year.

“Because we always have online components to our blended learning, we’re not scrambling to figure this out,” explained McMinn. “Our students, families and teachers know how to create meaningful online experiences. When we’re able, we’ll supplement those with face-to-face instruction in a socially distanced, safe environment, but our experiences in March really demonstrated how seamless the transition from blended to remote is, and what a difference remote learning experience makes for the students.”

The third scenario details the plan for if the region moves to a Phase 3 or below. As mandated by the State of Michigan, all schools in a Phase 3 or lower region must maintain a fully remote environment and thus, NexTech Grand Rapids’ third scenario is fully remote learning. Students and staff will work from home with live instruction to support students and provide interactive, quality online courses. Students will have options for remote one-on-one supports in addition to regular class interaction. 
“Through all our scenarios, we’ll continue to fulfill our mission to provide a personalized and transformational high school experience,” said McMinn. “Our goal is to prepare each student academically and emotionally for success in college, work and life. And we know right now students are learning really hard lessons in life. Because the ‘new normal’ is really our normal, our focus is on providing coping and academic supports, but also providing stability and quality when it comes to remote learning.”

Dan McMinn
Superintendent
NexTech High School

July 1, 2020

Superintendent's Update

Dear Parents/Guardians/Staff and School Community,

We made it through the end of the school year, and we even had a chance to celebrate our seniors in a unique way!  I know this was not the way we envisioned ending the year, but take heart in the way we finished, and the way we were able to navigate this new situation. As we continue to prepare and plan for the next year be aware that we are doing everything we can to make our school safe, and to improve our virtual experiences as well.  While we go over the Governor's recommendations and requirements for returning in the Fall I would like you to be aware of a few items.  The first is that we are working on a summer school plan for the end of July, beginning of August, to allow for small groups, and I would encourage you to send an email to Miss Kuczera if you are interested in this option.  Along with this I have created the following Infographic that helps to explain what our world could look like when we return.  Please note a more specific plan will be sent out by the end of July regarding required protocols and plans.

Finally, I want you to know that we have a new STEM teacher hired at the end of the year who will be working with students in a variety of new tools.  We have made some changes and will have a 3d printer, and a Glowforge laser printer when students come back.  We don't rest over the summer, we look to improve.  I hope we get a chance to see you all soon.

Wishing you health and safety,

Dan McMinn
Superintendent
NexTech High School

April 2, 2020

Superintendent's Update

Dear Parents/Guardians/Staff and School Community,

I want to start off by saying “Thank you” to all of the members of the school community who have been working so hard during this campus closure to allow us to maintain our class schedule and help to keep students on track.  At the core of what we do is the essential idea of learning, and thanks to all of your hard work we have been able to maintain this idea. Today there was an announcement by the Governor in regards to guidance for schools and this has extended school campuses to be closed for the rest of the school year.  We will be working over the coming week to ensure we are in compliance with the stated recommendations and continue to provide the education your students deserve.  

At this time we plan on continuing the learning plan we have established these past two weeks regarding student and course schedules. This allows students to attend face to face classes, while also providing time to meet with teachers for additional one on one support.  In order for your student to earn credit in class, they need to be working on their courses, there is no “free pass” for courses that are credit earning. With that in mind please be aware of the following items:

Current 9-11th grade students:  We are still expecting the same amount of credits for future graduation.  You need to continue to work hard in your classes - reach out to teachers if you need extra support and stay engaged.  You MUST have contact with your seminar teacher weekly in order to discuss progress in classes, but also to keep them updated regarding situations that may be happening in your households.  We are unable to help with a problem if we don’t know about it.  

Current 12th grade students:  You will be working to complete your required courses as they are scheduled.  Teachers are well aware of what you have been working through and level of effort prior to and during this closure will be determining factors in any changes to your current graduation progress.  Make sure to have contact with your seminar teachers on a regular basis. Graduation is not determined at this time. Conversations will be had with all seniors to determine what you would like best in regards to a celebration (virtual options, postpone until June, etc).  We will make the decision based on your feedback.

Families:  We need you to stay in contact with us during this campus closure.  I have heard directly from a number of families regarding illness, job security, and home life.  Please keep me informed as much as possible as we will always put the individual situation first, and evaluate on a case by case basis with the information we receive.  We know this is not an easy time, and we are here to support you in any way we can.

We are sending this letter today prior to our Spring Break time.  Students can still work through classes on their own during break, but teachers are not expected to be working during the break.  We are ahead of most districts at this point with the ability to offer continued learning options, so please do not base our plan on what others can/cannot do.  If you have any questions about our current plan, or future changes to our school year please let us know.    

Wishing you health and safety,

Dan McMinn
Superintendent
NexTech High School

March 20, 2020

Superintendent's Update

Dear Parents/Guardians/Staff and School Community,

We have finished the first week of a mandated school closure in the state of Michigan.  We have all had to make accomodations and changes to our normal schedules, and from those we have been in contact with it seems as though most have been doing well.  I had mentioned that we would be evaluating this week in regards to what we can do going forward, and there will be some changes/ updates to how our program will be operating through these next two weeks.

First off, in regards to our staff, they have been diligently working to provide uninterrupted classes, reach out to families, and bring any urgent matters to the forefront.  I hope their work during this unexpected time is appreciated as they are always putting students first, and an experience like this shows their support to your student. We would not be able to provide these experiences without their effort, so please make sure we support them as much as they are supporting you.

 Updates to the NexTech Model
- The plan we started with would have kept students in a normal time period for classes, maintaining their daily routine as much as possible.  We saw a number of students attending courses and gaining support, but we are trying to identify a way to make this even better. In order to do this we will be making some changes to our live schedule.  All courses will be changed to the following class schedule found here.

-By implementing this schedule we hope to be able to increase our class sizes for live courses, while still allowing teachers to support in one on one opportunities with scheduled meetings throughout the day.  This will go into effect starting this upcoming Monday, and students will still attend the days of the week as normal, just now during a 10-1:30 time period. 

-Students are expressing that they “miss school”.  Who would have thought that? The reality is that students need structure in their days, and we are continuing to set that, but can only do that with parental support.  It is not enough for a student to complete one lesson a day to stay on track. They must be working through courses more than the time we do live lessons.  I understand there is a closure for programs, but our program is designed to minimize these types of problems, and the ones that are not working will need to make this time up either in a summer session, or possibly with full days when school resumes.  Ask to see the gradebooks and review the work with them.  

-There will be no NexTech Prom this year, and we are already in discussions about what this may mean for our graduation plans down the line.  Additionally our conferences set for this upcoming week have been canceled.

I apologize for another long letter, we will continue to keep you informed of changes as they occur.  If there is anything that the school can do to help support your family during this time please let us know.  We miss seeing your kids and look forward to “seeing” them in classes this next week.

Sincerely,

Dan McMinn
Superintendent
NexTech High School

March 13, 2020

Superintendent's Letter Regarding School Closures

Dear Parents/Guardians/Staff and School Community,

First, thank you for your patience and support as we collectively navigate an evolving COVID-19 response plan. Late last evening, Governor Whitmer directed the closure of all K-12 schools statewide from Monday, March 16, 2020 through Sunday, April 5, 2020 in order to slow the spread of COVID-19.  This aligns with our current spring break, so at this time NexTech High School will be closed through Sunday April 12, 2020.  

In light of this information, and out of an abundance of caution, NexTech High School will be preparing resources to support students and families to minimize disruption to learning during the course of this extended school closure. Our offices will likewise be staffed, and a window of times provided for those students/families who may have issues that require families to come onsite.  Currently we will be open on Wednesdays from 9-12 in order to support families.

All afterschool activities, and events scheduled on Friday, March 13, 2020 through Sunday, April 12, 2020 are likewise cancelled, in accordance with the Governor’s guidance. 

Please also note that NexTech High is a blended learning environment and virtual learning is not only an option of our program, but an expectation.  As a result of this our classes will continue as though students are fully virtual.  Our teachers will be maintaining their normal schedules, and students are expected to do so as well.  The benefit of this is that students already have their courses set up in our online system, and they will need to maintain pace with classes and work.  This next week will be a challenge for some families, and we are willing to work through those challenges with you. Be expecting additional contacts from staff directly, and ensure your student is following their daily schedule.  By following this schedule students will not lose out on educational time, and will be on track to finish by the end of the year without additional disruption.  

We will remain vigilant in monitoring the ongoing guidance provided by our health officials, and in sharing timely and accurate information to the fullest extent possible. We are developing additional documents with guidance/clarification of attendance policies, resources available to support families, and will address specific questions students, families or staff members may have over the coming days and weeks. Our goal is to eliminate as much lost learning time as possible, and we will be following guidance from the Michigan Department of Education. 

We understand that closing school can be difficult for our families, and this is a highly unusual situation that calls for our careful and thoughtful response in order to maintain safe and secure learning environments for our students and our staff. As always, we value our strong community partnership as we work together with our students, staff, families and community to promote the safety, health and well-being of all. 

 

Sincerely,

Dan McMinn
Superintendent
NexTech High School

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Additional resources

Provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention