Superintendent Jeanice Swift subbed in during classes Tuesday, Jan. 12, due to a large number of staff absences in the building while clarifying protocols and AAPS’ approach for upcoming weeks.
“I just really appreciate the flexibility of our students and our staff,” Swift said. “I mean, look at this — people are just weathering this time and what makes us better this year you all know each other. Whereas last year we had to do virtual with [not being able to] getting to know each other.”
Swift was pleased to see strong attendance rates for the first classes she subbed in for Economics IB (84 percent) and AP U.S. History (93 percent). During the three-day virtual learning period last week, there was a 90-91 percent attendance rate throughout the district.
Junior Natalie Muenz had Swift as a substitute during his sixth hour AP Language and Composition class.
“I was very surprised to see the superintendent in our class,” Muenz said. “But it made sense since she’s been subbing around the building recently. The class was pretty chill, we were working on a project, and it was fun to explain the projects to her. I liked how she asked our opinions on virtual versus in-person school, and she didn’t seem to take any criticism of her decisions too personally. All in all, it was a pretty good experience.”
However, not only were there high staff absences, there were 20 percent of bus routes that were suspended.
“If we get to where it is the majority of them [ suspended] then we would make that decision [of going virtual],” Swift said. “We hope we are going to get a rhythm on us. Today was hard because it was our first and I’m really sorry for that. People don’t know that they’re going to get sick ahead of time, so it’s really hard to play in this. It’s really frustrating, but it ends up being the nightmare more.”
According to Swift, AAPS has started to place new protocols like delivering and providing upgraded masks (KN95 masks) to campuses, a five-day quarantine period instead of 10 days, and the district is looking at teachers to potentially teach on Zoom.
“We are going to look at that and work with that situation,” Swift said. “If they’re not feeling well, of course we want them to rest and get better. But there will be teachers who may choose.”
As of Jan.13, the Michigan health department reported 28,458 new COVID cases with an average of 14,229 cases in two days and Swift has no idea of how cases are going to look like at AAPS.
“Our crystal balls haven’t worked very well, have they?” Swift questioned. “I don’t know what to expect next. What we’ll be doing — our rhythm moving forward — is if we see cases, then we will revert to virtual. Now that we refreshed our virtual approach over three days, we’re ready.”