West Bloomfield Schools is a Leader in Cloud Learning

The district has focused on delivering new instruction to students and keeping connected — even as in-person learning shifted to virtual learning when the coronavirus spread through Michigan.

When schools switched to remote learning as part of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order to combat the spread of the coronavirus, the West Bloomfield School District didn’t miss a beat. Thanks to the district’s dedication to innovation and providing an enriching experience for students regardless of their proximity to one another, the district soared — even in quarantine.

“We really completely pivoted and moved all of our instruction online and continued to do all the things we would have done had it been normal school,” says Deanna Barash, Assistant Superintendent of the West Bloomfield School District. “We didn’t just kind of get through it, we actually grew this into a really awesome thing for our kids and our parents.”

The virtual program was consistent across the board — from preschool all the way to age 26 (young adults are involved in the district’s transition program for special education).

“Our teachers were providing live instruction every single day for 60 minutes minimum. I think that also really was very helpful, because they still had face-to-face time,” she says.

Ensuring kids feel safe and connected to school, have a sense of normalcy and receive new instruction is top of mind. With the 2019-20 school year officially a wrap, the West Bloomfield School District is ready for whatever 2020-21 throws its way.

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Classroom to Cloud Framework

With much uncertainty ahead, and the chance of another wave of coronavirus on the minds of families everywhere, the district has worked hard to be prepared for the upcoming school year with three roadmaps.

The first consists of a blended learning environment, which allows students to follow social distancing guidelines to minimize the spread of germs. The plan includes 50% of the school population in the building on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other 50% learn remotely. On Wednesdays, no one would be in the school to allow for a deep clean, followed by the other 50% coming to school on Thursdays and Fridays.

“And then our kids who need additional support — those who might have struggled before we even left in the spring, our special education students and so forth — will have additional in-person instructional time,” Barash says.

The second roadmap involves continuing instruction in a full lockdown with remote learning, while the final option allows for complete online learning. This option, known as Lakers Online, launched from a parent survey to find out how many parents want their kids to do remote learning.

“We did a parent survey and said, ‘What would be your preference?'” Barash says. They received 1,392 family responses — which they estimate was 60%-70% of kids — and discovered that 28.7% want remote learning only; they do not want to send their kids back to school come September.

“We’ve been spending hours and hours building what our remote learning plan is going to look like for the fall,” Barash says.

The district is now accepting applications from both in-district and out-of-district students — who must be residents of Oakland County. Visit wbsd.org/lakersonline for more information.

Portrait of a Graduate

It’s one thing to learn facts and figures from a book, but to truly be prepared for what lies ahead, students need to develop a number of personal skills that will allow them to have successful careers. To help students with this endeavor, the district created Portrait of a Graduate. Collaborator, critical thinker, communicator and contributor — these are the four skills incorporated into everyday instruction.

“We’ve also started a student ambassador program, so they really are the ones sharing our message,” she says. These students represent the school district, engage in community events and more to spread the district’s mission.

“I think we’re a district that is innovative and is able and willing to always do what’s best for kids,” Barash says. “We’ve been leaders from the beginning in cloud learning.

“As a parent,” she adds, “that’s the kind of district I want my kids in. I want them to be in a place where people and teachers are willing to go above and beyond and do everything they do for kids.”

Content brought to you by West Bloomfield School District. For more information, visit wbsd.org.

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