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Chelsea school students will start year virtually

By Crystal Hayduk

All students in the Chelsea School District will begin classes in a virtual format this fall.

The district’s detailed plan, “Climbing Out of COVID – Phased Approach,” was presented by the administration team at the Zoom board of education meeting on Aug. 10.

The six-step flexible approach was illustrated on a PowerPoint during the meeting by a ladder with directional arrows going in both directions between steps or phases. Steps will be determined by COVID-19 data through biweekly evaluations. 

Step one is orientation for students at all grade levels, to run from Aug. 31 through Sept. 3.

Step two begins on Sept. 8 with virtual classes for students in Young 5s through grade 12.

Steps three through five permit students to begin hybrid classes, beginning with the youngest learners, eventually progressing to high school students. The hybrid format is a combination of in-person learning two days a week, with remote learning three days a week.

The target date for elementary students at North Creek and South Meadows to begin hybrid classes is Sept. 28.

If COVID-19 conditions allow, Beach Middle School students would move to a hybrid schedule on Oct. 19; the target date for high school students to move hybrid is Nov. 30.

All students can return to face-to-face instruction in step six, when indicated to be safe.

Heather Conklin, curriculum and instructional specialist, said families will have a choice to participate in the phased-in model of instruction or to remain completely virtual. Because there are differences between how siblings learn, a plan needs to be chosen for each student rather than each family.

The time frame for the learning plan will be an entire trimester (quarter for middle school students), or for the entire year.

Superintendent Julie Helber said many more details about the all-virtual and the hybrid plans will be available later this week at building-specific virtual informational meetings, as well as at virtual office hours.

The schedule is as follows:

North Creek building meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 12; office hours for Y5s and kindergarten at 2 p.m. and 1st and 2nd grade at 3 p.m., both on Aug. 13.

South Meadows building meeting at 6 p.m. on Aug. 11; office hours at 3 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Beach Middle School building meeting at 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 11; office hours at 4 p.m. on Aug. 12.

Chelsea High School building meeting at 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 12; office hours at 4 p.m. on Aug. 13.

Special education office hours at 5 p.m. on Aug. 13.   

Each building principal will email a commitment form to families after the building meetings. Families are asked to return one form per student, committing to one of the learning models, for a specified length of time, no later than Aug.17.

The school board unanimously approved the plan, with all members present.

Helber said the entire presentation will be placed on the district’s website (       

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3 thoughts on “Chelsea school students will start year virtually”

  1. The office hours for North Creek have Y5 and K at the earlier time and 1st & 2nd at the later time. 3rd grade is at South.

  2. “youngest learners, eventually progressing to high school students”

    Are the younger kids going to be able to practice things like social distancing?? Why not start with high school and word down to the younger kids..?

    • I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that it’s two-fold: virtual learning is more difficult for younger students, and their in-person schedules are less complicated than middle and high school students. Younger students require much more hands-on assistance from parents to log in, stay focused, etc. while distance learning at home, and that is a huge burden on working parents. Class schedules for middle and high school students are also much more complex than for elementary students who already stay with one group/class the majority of the time.

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