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Chelsea School District Updates the Community on Fall Planning Process

By Crystal Hayduk

Chelsea School District administrators, led by Superintendent Julie Helber, conducted a Zoom webinar on July 30 to inform families about the current framework for opening schools, which has been modified since it was last released.

Helber said the district needs information from families by Aug. 6 to assist in making final plans.

With help from the community task force, family surveys, district staff, the board of education, and county and state networks, district administrators are creating a plan for the coming school year with a focus on safety.

Helber said although the expected school start date has been Aug. 31, there is ongoing discussion about possibly starting after Labor Day to permit additional preparation and professional development for teachers. However, a final decision on the start date has not been made.   

Based upon Governor Whitmer’s Return to School Roadmap, the district adapted their framework, which is linked on their website at

If the area is in Phases One through Three, all learning will be remote. In Phase Six, all learning will be face-to-face. Helber said the area is in “an ugly Phase Four,” meaning case numbers are rising. Learning options in Phases Four and Five include face-to-face, hybrid, and remote. 

Because many factors affect the district’s decision for how learning will take place this fall, Helber said, “The bottom line is health and safety for all.”

The district’s preparedness plan, which addresses multiple safety guidelines, is expected to be presented to the board of education for approval on Aug. 10. 

Assistant Superintendent Marcus Kaemming addressed the guidelines regarding use of “facial coverings” (used interchangeably with “masks”). All staff will be required to wear masks as outlined in the governor’s plan, except during meals. Students at all grade levels will wear masks in hallways, common areas, and on buses. Students in grades 6-12 will wear them in the classroom; whereas preschoolers through fifth graders will wear masks unless they remain in their classrooms. There will be protocols for medically-necessary exceptions.

School nurse, Marijane Nelson, said the district will provide information to families regarding daily screening. Anyone who has been in contact with a positive COVID-19 case will be notified by the Washtenaw County Health Department, and will receive guidance on next steps. “[The health department is] really going to be our guiding force in all of this,” said Nelson.

There will be modifications in busing, food service, athletics, and extra-curricular activities according to the Michigan Safe Schools Roadmap (

Heather Conklin, curriculum and instructional specialist, explained possible options for instruction, whether hybrid or remote. She said the district is making “robust” plans for virtual learning that will look very different from last spring when there was little time to prepare. “We’re supporting social and emotional health and wellness―this will be so important as we return into groups together, as we form new classroom families and communities in whatever format we’re in,” she said.

Lisa Nickel, director of special education, addressed some of the issues related to special populations and the intent to make plans collaboratively with families.

Digital access for all students remains a challenge, said Helber. The technology team is aware that some households cannot access the internet, even with a hotspot, due to insufficient cellular service. “We understand that those connectivity issues can create equity issues,” she said. In Phase Four, the district has the flexibility to allow some students into the building for digital access, which would not be permitted in Phase Three.

The district has emailed a survey to families, due by Aug. 6, to learn more about their internet status and plans regarding returning to school. Although survey responses are not a firm commitment, the district is interested in gauging interest in each learning plan.

The webinar can be viewed in its entirety at

Upcoming dates: 

District level community office hours – Aug. 5 from 3-4 p.m. and again from 6-7 p.m.


You are invited to a Zoom webinar.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Passcode: 572743

Or iPhone one-tap :

    US: +12678310333,,98836751896#  or +13017158592,,98836751896#

Or Telephone:

    Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 267 831 0333  or +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 651 372 8299  or +1 253 215 8782

Webinar ID: 988 3675 1896

    International numbers available:

            School board meeting with fall start recommendation on agenda will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Aug. 10. 

            Building specific meetings – times to be determined – Aug. 11-12.

            Building office hours – times to be determined – Aug. 12-13.

            Family fall choice form to be emailed by building principals week of Aug. 10; due by Aug. 15.    

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