Last year we really didn’t have spring break. Sure we were not in school at this time, but there was so much turmoil that none of us really relaxed or recovered. It was a crazy time, and still is. We are hearing reports that Michigan’s Covid–19 cases are on the rise, maybe the second worst situation of the 50 states.
What happened in the last year, though, has strengthened the school’s relationship with the community. We are not where we want to be but we are in a better place. Each of the school’s engagement teams strived to find and communicate with all of our students. Remote learning was a new adventure, but we learned from it. We all learned together.
Did you know that beginning on March 17, 2020, we served 341,876 meals to our students! And we served them in much different ways than we have been used to. We served them during pick-up times behind the school, we delivered them directly to houses … We even worked with Perfect Pact Produce to share twenty pound meal packs with our community. We were able to distribute this produce on a weekly basis!
How about the Internet access situation? We found that many families did not have adequate access to high speed and high quality internet, so we were able to work with some community partners to provide MiFi devices to our families in need of decent internet. Thanks to the Baldwin Promise Authority Director Duane Roberts for writing a grant from the Michigan College Access Network to allow us to provide the devices. Other partners also contributed toward internet access, as well. Of course, we discovered that if cellular service doesn’t work in an area, then the MiFis likely don’t work either. In addition, we discovered that metal roofs can adversely affect connection.
Computers? Computers? Overnight we decided that we would become a one-to-one school district. What does that mean? All of our students have a device they can take home and do their school work. Often, a one-to-one initiative takes time to plan and implement. We planned QUICKLY and implemented MORE QUICKLY! We distributed several hundred Chromebooks last spring that had been deprovisioned. What that means is that the Google update cycle no longer applied to certain machines, and therefore, those machines would not be able to be updated by us so we would not be able to use them during state testing. In June we ordered several hundred new Chromebooks … they didn’t come in until October, so in October, we began redistribution of new Chromebooks. But before that, we actually gave out several hundred additional Chromebooks, which we brought back in when we started our “trade in” program when the new machines arrived. It was complicated, but we wanted to make sure our students were able to do their school work.
The school interacted with the community much more than through food, Internet, and computers during the past year, but to me, these are some of the highlights. You don’t know the power of community until you’re faced with a pandemic, expected to continue on as if nothing major was affecting the whole world, and everything you ordered whether it was facemasks, sanitizer, or Chromebooks was on backorder.
So, friends and families, we didn’t have a Spring Break last year. Please, please, please enjoy your Spring Break this year. If you’re traveling, please be safe and follow the protocols that are necessary. We certainly hope that the end is in sight! Thank you for supporting Baldwin Community Schools! As always, be true to you, help your friends and families who need it, and read a good book during Spring Break! You are appreciated! And awesome!