Covid - 19 updates


May 1, 2020


Hello Again Blue Devils,

A few announcements to share with you.

Food Service: Our food service department continues to support our community by providing meals three times weekly. As of today, May 1, this amazing team has prepared and distributed over 26,000 meals (breakfast and lunch) to the children of our community. This service will continue through June 10, 2020. The online payment application is up and running for those who would like to check their balance and make online payments. Here is the link to the Lawton Food Service Web Portal. https://food.lawtoncs.org/Login.aspx

Class of 2020: We want this outstanding group of young people to know how much we all miss them. All of our other students will return to our halls next year. And while the senior year marks the end of the K-12 education experience, it is typically marked with special events that allow the students to celebrate and reminisce with their family and friends. This year will be different. That said, we remain committed to acknowledging the Class of 2020 and celebrating their accomplishments. We’ve reached out to the seniors and their parents to provide input that we will use to design a safe and memorable graduation ceremony. Additionally, the high school administration has ordered yard signs for all members of the senior class. We are also looking into banners that could be displayed downtown among other ideas. On May 13 at 6pm, we plan to release a video highlighting Senior Awards winners. Awards, caps, and gowns can be picked up on May 15 from Noon - 1pm. Mr. Maury is planning a special school lunch for all seniors when they arrive. Ms. Wilson will be contacting seniors with more information.

Virtual Learning: I’ve had the opportunity to sit in on some class meetings and learning sessions and want to say how impressed I’ve been with the attention and effort of our students and the work being done by our teachers. Next week, the district will release a document that identifies student expectations for participating in virtual learning. Thank you in advance for taking the time to review this with your child. Thank you to those who have reached out to teachers and administrators to share feedback about your child’s learning experience. This feedback helps us identify areas in which we can improve our approach. The situation is by no means ideal but I appreciate that all are doing the best they can with what they have. Monday, May 4 marks the beginning of Teacher Appreciation Week. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our fantastic teaching staff and all who support our mission. This appreciation extends to the parents who are supporting their students in this new world of “school at home”.

Census 2020: A reminder to all of our families to please take some time to complete the 2020 Census. The census is very important to public schools as the population total is tied directly to the amount of federal funding schools receive. Thank you for your support!

Hang in there everybody. Better days are ahead!

Chris Rice

Superintendent


April 17, 2020

 

Hello Blue Devils,

As our time away from school has now reached a month, I truly hope that you are taking good care of yourselves. I want to thank our teachers who have reached out to each of our students this week and to our students and families for taking some time to assure us that you’re OK or to share your needs. It is our goal to support you through this challenging time educationally and emotionally.

I also want to thank the 449 families who responded to either our online or phone-based instructional planning survey. The information you provided will be very important to us as we develop our Continuity of Learning Plans. Some key takeaways from the surveys include.

  • The vast majority of respondents indicated that the amount of learning material currently provided to their student was about right.
  • The vast majority of respondents have a device in the home that allows their student to participate in electronic virtual learning.

This is good news. However, we do know that to allow them to participate in technology-based learning, some of our students will need a device provided to them. To accommodate these students, the district is currently preparing a limited number of Chromebooks and iPads. We respectfully ask that only those families who do not possess a reliable computer (desktop, laptop, or tablet), take advantage of this opportunity. We also request that families in need take just one device that can be shared by the students in their home. The principals are working on instruction schedules that aim to minimize conflicts for students using devices. I will be working with our Principals and Technology Department on a plan for device pickup which we hope to have available in the next week. More information to be provided very soon.

Our teachers and administrators have been working very hard to develop the Continuity of Learning Plans that will guide us through the end of the school year. These plans require all students to participate. Those without the ability to participate via technology will be provided with weekly learning packets. Information about packet pickup will be shared in communications from each building principal.

We’re also excited to announce our new Online Learning Portal. A big thank you to LHS Teacher and Webmaster Mike Meyer, our teachers and principals for developing this resource. This portal can be used by students and parents to locate learning materials, teacher sites/classrooms, and other supporting information. Check it out here:
https://sites.google.com/lawtoncs.org/lcsonlinelearningportal/home

On Monday, 4/20, the Board of Education will be presented with an administrative recommendation regarding the expectations of seniors, the Class of 2020. Once approved, this information will be shared by either Ms. Wilson, Mrs. Munro or Ms. Webster. We wish our seniors all the best and as stated previously, we are committed to celebrating with you eventually.

In the coming days, you can expect to receive new information from each building principal regarding instructional plans and student expectations.

Be well and please reach out to me or your building principal with questions, comments or concerns.

Chris Rice


April 9, 2020

 

Dear LCS School Family,

I hope this update finds you and your families happy and healthy. Since receiving the Governor’s Executive Order last week suspending all in-person instruction for the remainder of the 2019-20 school year, LCS administrators and teachers have been working very hard to prepare for the rest of the year. 

The Governor’s order directs all Michigan school districts to develop “Continuity of Learning Response Plans.” These plans are quite detailed and require input from all stakeholders. To help us develop our Response Plan, I am asking that all LCS families complete an Instructional Planning Survey that can be accessed at this link. A link to the survey will also be posted on the district website www.lawtoncs.org. A phone call announcing this survey will also be made. This phone call will allow those who do not have internet service an opportunity to respond to a shorter survey. Completion of this survey will provide the district with critical information that will help us provide our students with a quality, remote learning experience.

Response Plans need to be completed and submitted for ISD approval no later than April 17 and districts need to be prepared to implement their plans no later than April 28. Given the complexity of the requirements, it is likely that districts will need the time provided to develop quality response plans. While these plans for long-term learning are under development, we do expect our students to continue engaging with the learning opportunities available to them. Each building will be updating their list of resources and expectations for students during this transition period of April 13 - April 28. Building principals will be reaching out with more information.

It is very important for our students and parents to know that the Continuity of Learning Plans that will go into effect on April 28 will require all students to complete school work. Expectations will vary from building to building but all students will be accountable for being engaged. We are still deciding what this might look like for Seniors and will announce these expectations as soon as possible. Seniors should not assume that they were done as of the end of the 2nd trimester.

Students in all other grade levels will be expected to meet minimum standards of class participation. Meeting these standards will be a requirement for receiving course credit. If for some reason a student is unable to participate in learning, parents or guardians need to contact their building principal to discuss their situation.

And while the instructional expectations for students will be a critical part of our Response Plan, we also want to emphasize that the well-being of our students, staff and families remains our top priority. To help us determine needs and assess the wellness of our students, all families can expect to receive a phone call from a teacher or staff member who knows your child on either April 13, 14 or 15. It is possible that these phone calls will come from unrecognizable phone numbers. If you receive a voicemail message from the teacher, please call them back at the number provided.  These wellness calls are being made by all school districts across Van Buren county. It is important that we connect with every student.

Here are some other questions and answers that are of importance.

Q. What if my student does not have access to a computer or mobile device?

  1. The survey mentioned above will help us assess the need for devices on a student by student basis. Devices will be made available to those who need them.

Q. What if my home does not have internet access?

  1. We are pleased to share that a wifi access point is being made available in the parking lot of Lawton Middle School for those who are able to get there. Families are also encouraged to look into the options for free internet currently available including Comcast Essentials that is offering two months free for those who apply by April 30.

Q. What will the instructional program look like?

  1. We are planning a “mixed-media” approach that will provide computer based learning for those that have access to computers and the internet. Those without a computer and internet will be provided with weekly printed packets. If textbooks are needed for work completion, these will also be provided. The details are being developed and will be released no later than April 28.

Q. Will State tests be administered this year?

  1. No. The M-Step, PSAT, and SAT tests will not be required this year. Those students who were scheduled to take the PSAT or SAT in school this year may take these tests next fall. Advanced Placement students will have the option to take an abbreviated home test and are encouraged to do so.

Q. Is Michigan’s Third Grade Reading Law still in effect?

  1. The requirements of this law, including retention of those not reading at grade level, have been suspended for this year. 

Q. Will Seniors graduate and have a ceremony?

  1. All seniors who were on track to graduate as of March 11 and meet any additional requirements will receive their diploma. If the current situation improves and social distancing requirements are lifted, we will consider a traditional ceremony. We are also considering many other ways to celebrate the Class of 2020.

Q. When will the 2020-21 school year start?

  1. The Governor’s order provides flexibility with the school calendar. We want our students back in school as soon as it is deemed safe and logical to do so. Planning continues in this regard but an earlier start to the school year is likely.

There are many other issues yet to be determined including: retrieval of student belongings, special education meetings and services, class trips, etc. As information is available in these and other areas, we’ll pass it along.

Monday, Wednesday and Friday food service delivery to the community drop points will resume on Monday April 13.

We realize that this is a time of great uncertainty and anxiety for many people and children. Please know that the staff and administration of Lawton Community Schools are here to support you. We will get through this together!

Stay safe. Stay healthy.

Chris Rice
Superintendent


4/3/20

 

Hello Blue Devils,

We learned on Thursday that Michigan schools will remain closed through the remainder of the school year. And while this information is very disappointing to us all, it is imperative that we accept this challenge with grace and determination. This is not the end of the school year anyone envisioned. Parents have been thrust into the role of teacher. Teachers have had to learn and adjust to leading learning without a classroom. Students are isolated from one another and have lost out on much that school has to offer. I feel particularly bad for our seniors. For them, this is a particularly difficult time as they have lost out on experiences including prom, a class trip, spring sports, and perhaps a traditional graduation ceremony. Seniors and your families, please know that the Board of Education, Ms. Wilson and I are committed to celebrating your accomplishments. In the coming weeks we will be discussing what that might look like and will keep you posted. You are a special group in so many ways and you’ve certainly left your mark on Lawton High School.

In this difficult time, I’ve reflected on the words of Linda Cliatt-Wayman who was a principal of an inner city school facing very significant challenges. In the face of adversity, her words to her people were simple: “so what, now what”. What she was saying is that we know we are facing challenges. We can’t change or control that. We can’t wave a magic wand and make this go away. Rather we should focus on what we can control – our individual and collective response to the challenge.

So, how do we respond? First of all and most importantly, we listen to the public health experts and observe the guidelines they’ve provided. Secondly, we turn the challenges into opportunities. We accept what we can’t control and do our very best to become better people. For our students, this means committing time each day to learning. It means focusing on improving our minds, bodies and relationships. We stay in touch with friends but we do so from a distance. I know it isn’t easy but it can and must be done.

As of April 2, students had been out of school for 15 consecutive days. We all entered into this situation very suddenly with very little time to prepare. I commend our leadership, teachers and staff for their work and our parents for doing the very best you can to support your children. Given the Executive Order, schools and teachers will need time to decide how best to proceed. To help us with that planning, we will soon distribute a survey asking parents for input on learning expectations and technology access. You can expect to see that survey sometime next week.

Friday April 3, was supposed to mark the start of our Spring Break. And while travel or vacation plans are not an option, I do encourage our teachers and families to unplug for the week and focus on your family. Do what you can to stay happy and healthy. Reading is always a great choice. Find safe places for family walks. Put the devices down and have meaningful conversations.

On Monday April 13, all students are to resume the learning activities their teachers have provided. During this week, with ISD guidance, teachers will begin working to develop a long-term learning plan for all students. The plans must meet very specific state guidelines. The plans will outline specific expectations, supports and resources for students in all buildings and grade levels. The state has given schools until April 28 to complete their plans which must be submitted for ISD approval. It is our goal to complete our plan prior to April 28 if possible. Details of those plans will be shared as they are created.

Until further notice, meals will continue to be distributed on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday in the designated community locations.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have.

Stay healthy, stay safe.

Chris Rice - Superintendent


LCS Update 3/24/2020

 

LCS School Family,

I hope this update finds you and your family happy and healthy. As we are all aware, the Governor has issued a stay home order for all Michigan residents. The order does allow some exceptions for critical infrastructure. At the school district level, we are restricting our definition of critical infrastructure to food service staff, bus drivers delivering meals, certain administrative work, and custodial work as needed to maintain buildings. All building offices are closed and will remain closed through the term of the Governor’s order. Those who are able to work remotely are doing so.

During her Monday press conference, the Governor stopped short of providing specific guidance to schools regarding days of instruction and possible forgiveness. We are expecting to receive education specific information from the Governor and the State Superintendent of Instruction in the coming days. Until that information is received, we will continue to support student learning as we have for the past several days. As new information is received, we will respond accordingly. To our seniors and their families, all indications are that getting you to graduation on time will be a priority moving forward.

Food service has been identified as critical infrastructure and schools have been strongly encouraged to continue this important community service. I am concerned about the strain on our food service department and am thankful to the many people who have offered to help. For now, we will continue to prepare and serve meals daily in the designated locations. However, in an attempt to protect the health of those who are preparing, serving and delivering meals, changes to our current system are certainly possible. Any changes would be announced at least a day prior to taking effect.

Parents and students are encouraged to take advantage of the food service program. They are also encouraged to continue to remain engaged with educational opportunities provided by teachers. This will end eventually and we want our students to be in the best position possible to resume their studies.

Take good care of yourselves and your families and please contact me with your questions or concerns.

Chris Rice


Friday, March 19, 2020

 

LCS School Family,

Let me begin by expressing my gratitude to our entire school community. Under very unusual and uncertain circumstances, I’ve been incredibly impressed by how people have pulled together. This is particularly tough when we can’t be together. Teachers are doing a fantastic job of trying to provide learning opportunities. Food service has been on the job each day making great sack lunches. Bus drivers are helping deliver those lunches to children around our community. Custodians are thoroughly cleaning our buildings and preparing for the start of construction. Administrators are putting forth great effort to support all of these activities. We are performing these essential functions while also trying to comply with best practice guidelines for hygiene and social distancing.

Understandably, there are a lot of questions surrounding our current situation. Below is a list of those questions and the best answers we currently have.

Will school resume after Spring Break as scheduled? As of today, we’ve received no official notice that the shutdown will be extended. However, based on what we see each day in the media, I would not be surprised if the closure is extended. The plans we have in place are intended to get us through April 2, the scheduled start of Spring Break.

What will teaching and learning look like if the shutdown is extended? If the extension was for a brief period of time, say 1-2 weeks, teaching and learning might be very similar to what we currently have in place. If the shutdown were to last longer, perhaps through the end of the school year, we may have to revisit our current approaches to ensure that learning continues for all students. This will be dependent upon guidance from the Governor and Michigan Department of Education.

How will this impact seniors who are looking toward graduation? Great question without a great answer. Again, we’ll look for guidance from the government here but some possibilities include: modified graduation requirements that focus on core courses, an instructional emphasis on the needs of 12th grade students, and possible rescheduling of the graduation ceremony. Please know that we aren’t giving up hope that a return to normalcy could occur yet this Spring. However, it is prudent to consider all scenarios.

How will this impact athletics? This is governed by the MHSAA who has not yet pulled the plug on either winter post-season tournaments or the spring sports season. I assume that they are waiting to see if the shutdown ends on April 5 or is extended before making these decisions. We feel terrible about lost learning and participation opportunities for all kids including our athletes and coaches

What are the schoolwork expectations for students? Schools in Michigan have been advised by legal council that schoolwork during the shutdown cannot be required for credit. Some teachers may grade some student work simply for feedback but until further notice, work will not be counted for credit. Students (and parents) at all grade levels have been doing a great job of staying engaged with the activities teachers have provided. There is an exception to the credit granting rule. Those high school students who are still working in an online Gradpoint course from the second trimester may continue to work toward completion of that course. Also, high school students who failed a second trimester course and have been assigned a Gradpoint class for credit recovery may continue to work. No new students or new courses will be assigned in Gradpoint until we receive updated guidance.

How long will meal service be provided? Meals will continue to be available for pickup at the designated locations through Thursday April 2. This marks the start of Spring Break and we’ll be sending employees home at that time for a well-deserved break. If the shutdown is extended, we’ll revisit meal service based on guidance from state officials.

If you have a specific question that hasn’t been answered, please direct that to the appropriate teacher or administrator. They are working remotely but are responding to students and parents during the closure. I’m also happy to help you. Feel free to call me at 624-7997 or email at crice@lawtoncs.org. I don’t typically monitor Facebook for questions so phone or email is the best way to reach me.

As a society, we are often at our best when times are worst. Stay healthy. Stay safe.

Chris Rice, Superintendent

LCS Continuity Learning Plan

Lawton Community School's Continuity Learning Plan as approved by the Van Buren Intermediate School District.

Van Buren County GSRP Continuity of Learning Plan

Letters from LCS Principals

CDC Information for:

Covid-19 Fact Sheet from CDC.gov

We can all take preventative measures to minimize the spread of communicable diseases. Health authorities indicate that the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are the same recommendations for preventing the spread of the flu virus. The Michigan Department of Health Human Services advises the following steps can be taken to prevent spread of flu and the common cold that will also help prevent COVID-19, including:

  • Washing your hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoiding contact with people who are sick.
  • Staying home if you are sick and contact your healthcare provider.

 

Food Information for Lawton & Van Buren County

Van Buren County Breakfast / Lunch Distribution Sites

Sites and times of lunch distribution in Lawton:

  • Porter Township Hall Parking Lot: 12:00 - 12:15 p.m.
  • Frosty Acres neighborhood: 12:00 - 12:15 p.m.
  • Jewell Drive: 12:00 - 12:15 p.m.
  • Village Commons 4th St. Entrance: 11:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
  • Morrill St. Apartments: 12:00 - 12:15 p.m.
  • Crystal Flash, S. LaGrave St.: 12:00 - 12:15 p.m.
  • LHS Cafeteria new Stadium Entrance: 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
  • Please follow our Facebook page as more information to be posted there.