The Ludington School Board of Education on Monday, during a virtual meeting, approved the district’s Return to School Plan for the 2020-2021 school year and the development of the district’s COVID-19 Preparedness Response Plan.

In its instructional plan, assuming the state is in phase 4 or higher of the MI Safe Start Plan, option one will be to hold in-person instruction, according to Jason Kennedy, superintendent.

“It will take place according to the district’s collectively bargained calendar for the 2020-2021 school year,” Kennedy said. “This includes in-person instruction up to five days per week, following the clock hour schedule that the district has traditionally followed in previous years.”

Safety protocols that have been reviewed by the District Health Department No. 10 will be implemented in this option.

Kennedy also noted students may transition from the in-person instructional model at designated times during the year. The district will be required to return to virtual learning if the district goes back to phase one, two or three.

“This option is phase dependent,” Kennedy said. “We are required by executive order to close school for in-person instruction if we are in phase one, two or three.”

If, at any point in time, the district moves from phase four back into phase one, two or three the districts in-person instruction is closed and instruction will transition to remote learning.

“That remote learning will be significantly different then the remote learning provided at the end of last year, which was a stop gap measure,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy said this remote learning will have some additional accountability measures, baring legislative action, executive order or directive from the Department of Education that would prohibit the district from doing so.

“The district would seek to employ accountability measures such as attendance and grading requirements,” Kennedy said. “The online learning would be more robust than what was provided as the stop-gap measure.”

The second option is 100 percent virtual learning where students would work through the Oriole Academy Virtual Learning.

Students in K-12 will have the option to participate fully in an asynchronous online learning program facilitated by a certified LASD teacher of record. This program requires a self-paced and intrinsically motivated student that will use the district’s online learning courseware through a third party vendor such as Michigan Virtual University.

Students who chose this option will retain full rights and privileges of a LASD student and be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics.

“This truly is an any time, any place instructional model,” Kennedy said. “It allows students to receive their instruction at any time during the course of the day. They are not tied into a traditional schedule but will be required to connect with the LASD teacher of record multiple times throughout the week to ensure that there is two-way communication.”

Kennedy said this option really requires a self-motivated student that is willing to work through the course work and curriculum at they own pace.

The third option is online remote learning from home. This option connects directly with an LASD teacher, which offer the opportunity to stay connected with peers and teacher of record.

Kennedy said the plan has been developed over the course of several months with the district task force which is made up of administrators, teachers, support staff, parents and students. The district has been working closely with the Ludington Education Association to review the plans and work together through the process.

Kennedy said this option allows students will retain the full rights and privileges and will be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities and athletics, as long as the student meets the minimum eligibility requirements to participate in that extracurricular activity or event.

The plans can be viewed on the district’s webpage.

“I am always thankful for the collaboration of the district’s education association and our professional and support staff’s continued work in developing these plans,” he said.

Kennedy said the district is also working with the District Health Department No. 10 and Public Health and will continue to seek their guidance for these preparedness and response plans.

The board of education also approved the hiring of two new teachers to the district.

The board hired Dierdre McKeever as the new music teacher at Foster Elementary School. McKeever is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor’s degree in choral music education and vocal performance.

The board also hired Ingrid Fournier as the new fifth grade teacher at Foster Elementary School.

Fournier has a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and holds a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University in communications and Italian. She comes to LASD from the Forest Hills School District in Grand Rapids.