GRPS applauds Whitmer’s decision to prioritize health, safety

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At Grand Rapids Public Schools, the health and safety of our students, families, teachers and support staff is our No. 1 priority, which is why I applaud Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for stepping up and making the difficult decision to end face-to-face learning for the remainder of the school year.

Although we were hoping we would be back in the classroom this spring, we’ve been preparing for this day and crafting our plan. While this will certainly disrupt learning as we know it for the next several months, rest assured our teachers and staff are prepared to provide the best learning experience possible under these difficult circumstances.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Whitmer has demonstrated clear and decisive leadership, especially in her decision to keep K-12 schools closed for the remainder of the academic year to help slow further spread of the coronavirus. We also appreciate that Gov. Whitmer has worked with the Legislature to create a consensus approach to this unprecedented situation.

The governor’s executive order ensures the continuation of learning by providing guidelines for remote learning and giving us the resources to continue providing instruction to students for the remainder of the school year. Grand Rapids Public Schools is grateful for this invaluable guidance, as well as resources that will allow us to provide instruction and serve student needs for the remainder of the school year.

I had hoped to see our students’ smiling faces and their infectious laughter return to our hallways and classrooms this spring, but we know closing our school buildings for the remainder of the school year is the right thing to do to ensure the health, safety and well-being of the Grand Rapids Public Schools community.

I want to thank our teachers, support staff, administrators and volunteers for their hard work over the last several weeks to connect with students and provide parents and guardians with resources to help continue their child’s education.

If this pandemic has shown us one thing, it’s that great disparities remain in our education system. We are currently working on plans for distance learning that reflect what works best for our students and to ensure learning is appropriate, equitable and accessible for all students and families. Looking ahead to next school year, we are already working with policymakers and legislative leaders to ensure they understand the importance of addressing the individual needs of our most vulnerable students in next year’s school-aid budget. These students, in particular, face significant challenges to learning during this continuing crisis leading to learning loss.

While nothing can replace the value of our teachers working directly with students in our classrooms, we are committed to providing continued learning opportunities for all Grand Rapids Public Schools students while helping slow the spread of COVID-19.

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