TCAPS Safe Start Plan

TCAPS Health & Safety Protocols Video

TCAPS Communications Regarding COVID-19 Cases

Whenever the district receives notification of a school-related confirmed case of COVID-19 in a TCAPS student or staff member, we will make every attempt to be as transparent as possible. Due to confidentiality laws and policies, including the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, we will generally not be able to provide specific information regarding any particular case.

Please know that you will be contacted if your child is a close contact with someone in the school setting who tested  positive for COVID-19. The Health Department will advise you on what steps to take. If your family is not contacted, that means your child was not identified as a close contact of the person who tested positive.

As with other communicable diseases such as pertussis, whooping cough, etc., and consistent with confidentiality laws and rules, the school district will promptly inform staff and families of any COVID-19 positive cases to which they or their student may have been exposed.

Given the size of the district, communications will go out at the specific building or program level. However, all district COVID-19 communications will be posted and publicly available on this webpage. 

TCAPS COVID-19 Communications & Case Reporting
 

Building New Cases Cumulative Cases Date Notified by Health Dept.*
Blair            0                   1 12/18/20
Central Grade            0                   3 01/04/21
Central High            0                  13 01/14/21
Cherry Knoll            0                   2 01/13/21
Courtade            0                   2 12/11/20
East Middle            0                   4 11/19/20
Eastern

           0

                  3 01-14-21**
Long Lake

           0

                  3 01/05/21**
Silver Lake            0                   6 12/30/20**
Support Buildings            0                   5 12/15/20
TCAPS Montessori            0                   2 11/15/20
TC High            0                   1 11/19/20
Traverse Heights            0                   1 12/17/20
West Middle            0                   4 01/07/21
West Senior            2                   15 01/15/21
Westwoods            0                   1 01/05/21**
Willow Hill            1                   2 01/15/21
       
       
TCAPS District           3                   67  

chart last updated (01/15/21)
* This column represents the last date the school received notification from the health department of a new school-associated case. Per
PDF DocumentMDHHS Emergency Order Under MCL 333.2253, a school-associated case is defined as a probable or confirmed COVID-19 case among students, teachers, school staff members, or any other person who was present on school property or at a school function under circumstances that may result in the transmission or contraction of COVID-19 during their infectious period. ** One case of COVID-19 was linked to more than one school building. 

Google DocCOVID-19 Close Contact & Quarantine Information & FAQs

External LinkTBAISD COVID-19 Case Reporting & Information

MDHHS School Outbreak Reporting

In its September 14th press release, the Michigan Department of Health & Human Services (MDHHS) announced it will begin reporting outbreak information by school building. Data will be collected from 45 local health departments across the state weekly. An outbreak is defined as two or more cases with a link by place and time indicating a shared exposure outside of a household. 

The information will be posted on External LinkMichigan's Coronavirus website each Monday at 3 p.m., and will include K-12, college and university school name, address, number of cases and if the cases involved staff, students or both. Students or staff exposed to COVID-19 outside the school building and are not thought to have spread the virus in the school due to quarantine or self-isolation are not included in the data. PDF DocumentView full MDHHS press release.

COVID-19 Procedures

Procedures for COVID-19 Positive Cases and Close Contacts

Students and staff members who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been identified as a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 through the Grand Traverse County Health Department’s contract tracing efforts will be released to return to school or work, once they have completed their quarantine or self-isolation period. The school district receives information directly from the Grand Traverse County Health Department about when students and staff members who are under a Health Department quarantine or self-isolation period may return to school or work. Updated release information is provided to the school district daily.

Procedures for Students Pending COVID-19 Test Results

Students who have been directed by their primary care physician or health clinic to quarantine pending the results of a COVID-19 test are asked to provide a doctor’s note prior to returning to school. The school district is collaborating with area doctors’ offices, school districts, and Health Departments to help create consistency across medical practices. Many doctors’ offices plan to directly provide the school district a note clearing a patient to return to school as well as provide a copy of the note to the parent/guardian. While not required, providing a doctor’s note before a student returns to school is strongly recommended.

Procedures for Student-Athletes

Per guidance from the Michigan High School Athletic Association, student-athletes are required to provide a doctor’s note prior to returning to play. External LinkClick here for additional information.

Student/Staff Member Privacy and Confidentiality

Please remember that there are many reasons that students or staff members may not be at school or may return to school after being out. We must all do our part to avoid gossip and speculation to ensure that all students and staff members feel welcomed and supported, especially those who may be absent or who are returning to school after an absence. 

Reminder About COVID-19 in the Community

Additionally, parents are asked to continue to reinforce with students the importance of the additional cleaning and safety procedures TCAPS has implemented this school year, including mask wearing and frequent hand washing/sanitizing, as each adds an additional layer of protection against the virus. Because there continues to be COVID-19 present in the community, parents should assume that at any time there could be a student or staff member in their school community who may be quarantining or self-isolating. Families should take all precautions deemed necessary on a daily basis. 

Quick Links

PDF DocumentDaily Student Health Screening Tool

PDF DocumentWhen Is It Safe to Leave Home

Important Notice: Bus Routes May Be Delayed Due to Ongoing Staffing Shortages

(January 6, 2021)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

This message is to inform you that ongoing staffing shortages continue to impact the school district, including potentially causing delays on some afternoon bus routes for some middle school and high school students. These delays could be up to 45 minutes. In order to not disrupt service, routes are being combined, and in some cases may reach capacity. We will do our best to keep families informed regarding delays, however, this may not be possible in every situation as all available licensed drivers are being utilized to transport students. We appreciate your patience and understanding.

In the worst case scenario, a few bus routes may be delayed and afternoon pick up for some middle and high school students would be approximately 30-45 minutes after school releases. Should this occur we will communicate with families further and offer additional supervision and study/intervention opportunities at the school for students during this time. If at any time a parent/guardian decides to pick up their child instead of using TCAPS transportation services, please contact your school office to let them know. We are also aware of a PowerSchool Parent Portal issue. If you are unsure of your child’s routing information, please contact your school office or the Transportation Department at (231) 933-1933.

Please know that the school district is doing everything possible to continue to provide transportation and other services to our students and families during this time, but we need your help. One of the ways TCAPS is working to help provide additional staffing support is by looking to recruit new employees. I would encourage you to share the following information regarding upcoming job fairs with anyone you know who is looking for employment opportunities and would like to make an important difference in the lives of our community’s children. 

TCAPS is hosting hiring events throughout the month of January with opportunities to interview onsite, no appointment necessary. Interested applicants may simply stop in during one of the designated days and times (see below). Many posted External Linkpositions require no prior experience and on-the-job training is provided. 

Upcoming TCAPS hiring events, include:

  • Thursday, January 14th
    3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    Boardman Administration Building (412 Webster Street)
     
  • Monday, January 18th
    7:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
    TCAPS Transportation Department (1183 Cass Road)

We continue to look for creative ways to address the impacts of COVID-19 and to continue to provide critical services to our students and families. It has been a pleasure to welcome so many of our students back into our schools today. By working together, we can keep face-to-face learning options possible now and into the future. 

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

New Options for Quarantine

Past Communications to All Staff & Families

Reminder: TCAPS K-12 Students Resume Face-to-Face Learning Tuesday, Jan. 5th

(January 3, 2021)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

This is a reminder that face-to-face learning will resume for all TCAPS K-12 students on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. Preschool and Toddler tuition-based programs will resume face-to-face learning on Monday, January 4, 2021. On Monday, Jan. 4th, TCAPS K-12 teachers and support staff will participate in a district-wide virtual professional development day. The PDF Document2020-2021 school calendar can be found here (the PDF DocumentBL/TH school calendar can be found here).  

As I shared PDF Documentpreviously, we have been monitoring a number of factors regularly, including ensuring we have sufficient staff available to be able to provide a safe and appropriate in-person learning environment, and we will continue monitoring these factors closely in the new year. I also wanted to take a moment to reshare a PDF Documentletter to the community from a consortium of school, health and community leaders with you, which provides resources for families to help support our schools as we prepare to resume face-to-face learning. Please be reminded that all school district COVID-19 safety procedures and protocols remain in place, per the school district’s state-approved PDF DocumentCOVID-19 Response and Preparedness Plan.

I hope you enjoyed a safe, healthy and joy-filled holiday season! We look forward to welcoming our students back in the new year!

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Community Letter Regarding Upcoming Winter Break & Holidays

Stay Safe to Stay Open

(posted December 18, 2020)

Please take a moment to read the PDF DocumentDecember 18, 2020, community letter regarding the upcoming winter holiday break and guidance to consider before, during and after a gathering to stay safe this holiday season. This information is being shared as a joint collaboration of area leaders representing the medical, educational, public health, and business communities. 

 

Reminder: TCAPS High Schools and Middle Schools to Continue Remote Learning Dec. 21st-22nd 

(posted December 18, 2020)

TCAPS Middle School and High School Families and Staff, 

As previously shared, all TCAPS high schools will continue with remote learning on December 21-22, 2020. In addition, East Middle School and West Middle School students will continue with remote learning Dec. 21st-22nd due to ongoing staffing shortages. The holiday recess begins for all TCAPS students on Wednesday, December 23rd and school resumes on Tuesday, January 5, 2021. PDF DocumentView the updated 2020-2021 school calendar.

The TCAPS Board of Education had previously made the decision for high school students to continue with remote learning through Dec. 22nd at its meeting on December 14th. Further, on Tuesday, December 15, 2020, the school district announced that students at East Middle School and West Middle school would move to remote learning due to districtwide staffing shortages. The categorical programs for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MICI) and TCAPS Pass/Pilot programs held at the middle schools and high schools will continue face-to-face instruction. 

This clarification is being shared in light of the announcement today from Governor Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) that an updated External Linkepidemic order allowing indoor activities where Michiganders can remain masked, including allowing in-person learning at high schools, would be in effect beginning on Monday, Dec. 21, 2020.

Please be reminded that school meals continue to be available at each secondary building from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 21st, Tuesday, Dec. 22nd, and Monday Jan 4th. The district will also provide weekend and bulk meals for pickup on Saturday, Dec. 19th, Wednesday, Dec. 23rd, and Monday, Dec. 28th. Meal pickups are at West Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on the bus ramp off of Franke Rd.

Thank you for your continued partnership in your child’s education. Wishing you and your family a pleasant and safe holiday!

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Middle Schools to Move to Remote Learning Dec. 16th-Dec. 22nd Due to Staffing Issues, High Schools to Remain Remote Dec. 21st and 22nd, No School For Students for Staff Professional Development Day Jan. 4th

(posted 12/15/20)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

Due to staffing issues, TCAPS middle school students will move to remote learning beginning on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, through Tuesday, December 22, 2020. In addition, the TCAPS Board of Education voted at its meeting last evening to keep high school students learning remotely through December 22nd. (The 12-day extension of the statewide Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) External Linkepidemic order expires on Dec. 20th.) Holiday recess begins for all students on Dec. 23rd. 

In addition, the holiday recess for students will be extended for one day, through January 4, 2021, with most students returning to school on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 (see calendar reminders below). This is for students enrolled in face-to-face and UpNorth Virtual Live (UpNorth Virtual On Demand students develop their own individualized learning schedule). Teachers and staff will continue to report to work on Jan. 4th for virtual professional development. The goal of the staff learning day is to help further support teachers in delivering instruction in multiple formats this school year and to allow time for district support staff to receive additional training.

School day meals continue to be available at each secondary building from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. through Tuesday, Dec. 22nd. Bulk meal distribution is available at West Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on the bus ramp off of Franke Rd. on the following days: 

  • Saturday, Dec. 19th (weekend meals for all students; weekly meals for virtual students)
  • Wednesday, Dec. 23rd (bulk meals available for all students) 
  • Monday, Dec. 28th (bulk meals available for all students)

All students can pick up breakfast and lunch on Monday, January 4th from any school building from 7:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. Tuition-based preschool and toddler programs will run as normal on Monday, January 4th. 

Important Calendar Reminders 

  • High School (grades 9-12) 
    • Remote learning continues through Dec. 22nd
    • Dec. 23rd-Jan. 4th, holiday recess
    • School resumes face-to-face January 5th 
    • Special Education Programs: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MICI) and TCAPS Pass/Pilot programs will continue face-to-face instruction through Dec. 22nd (assuming available staffing) 
  • Middle School (grades 6-8)
    • Remote learning to begin Dec. 16th and continue through Dec. 22nd
    • Dec. 23rd-Jan. 4th, holiday recess
    • School resumes face-to-face January 5th 
    • Special Education Programs: Mild Cognitive Impairment (MICI) and TCAPS Pass/Pilot programs will continue face-to-face instruction through Dec. 22nd (assuming available staffing) 
  • Elementary School (grades K-5)
    • Face-to-Face learning to continue through Dec. 22nd (assuming available staffing)
    • Dec. 23rd-Jan. 4th, holiday recess
    • School resumes face-to-face January 5th
  • Preschool and Toddler - Tuition Based Programs 
    • Face-to-Face learning to continue through Dec. 22nd (assuming available staffing)
    • Dec. 23rd-Jan. 3rd, holiday recess
    • School resumes face-to-face January 4th 

As I shared in a PDF Documentprevious message, we continue to monitor a number of factors when determining whether or not we can continue with face-to-face instruction on a day-to-day basis. One key factor for TCAPS is ensuring that we have sufficient staff available to be able to provide a safe and appropriate in-person learning environment. A lack of adequate staffing will continue to lead the school district to move to remote learning out of necessity. 

Another factor being monitored by the Grand Traverse County Health Department is the transmission of COVID-19 in schools. To date, the Health Department has not seen evidence of ongoing transmission in schools and has not made a recommendation for schools in Grand Traverse County to close their face-to-face offerings for students in grades preK-8. We continue to work collaboratively to monitor the situation and to support our community’s response to COVID-19. As always, I will continue to share updates with you as they become available.

Thank you to our incredible students and families who continue to learn, grow, and adapt in an unbelievably challenging year. Thank you also to our amazing staff who have continued to work to deliver high quality instruction and services for our students in ever-changing times and circumstances. It hasn’t been easy, but the many smiling eyes and learning milestones achieved already this school year make overcoming the many challenges before us well worth the effort. 

Sincerely, 

John R. VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Important COVID-19 Notification

Middle School Students to Return to Face-to-Face Learning Beginning Wednesday, Dec. 9th, High Schools to Continue Remote Learning 

(posted 12/08/20)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

Beginning on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, TCAPS middle school students will return to face-to-face learning. Middle school students had previously been learning remotely through December 8, 2020, due to staffing issues. At this time, the school district has the staff available to reopen to face-to-face learning for students in grades 6-8. 

In addition, due to the 12-day extension of the statewide Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) External Linkepidemic order announced on Monday, December 7, 2020, all TCAPS high schools will continue with remote learning, as required. The extended epidemic order is now scheduled to expire on December 20, 2020. However, given the way the TCAPS school calendar falls, the TCAPS Board of Education will discuss the high schools continuing remote instruction through December 22, 2020, at their next regular meeting scheduled for Monday, December 14, 2020, at 6:00 p.m. The holiday recess begins for all TCAPS students on December 23, 2020.

School resumed face-to-face for all TCAPS K-5 students and students receiving special education services through categorical programs for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MICI), and TCAPS Pass/Pilot programs on Monday, December 7, 2020. The categorical programs for Mild Cognitive Impairment (MICI), and TCAPS Pass/Pilot programs will continue face-to-face instruction. 

Daily meals continue to be available at each high school building from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The district will provide weekend meals to all students on Saturday, December 12th and Saturday, December 19th. All remote students may pick up weekly meals on Saturday, December 12th and Saturday, December 19th. Saturday distribution is at West Middle School from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. on the bus ramp off of Franke Rd.

Please look for additional information from your student’s school or teacher(s) about how to access your child’s learning each day. Additional information and updates will be provided as they become available. For more information, visit: www.tcaps.net/safestart

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Return to Face-to-Face Learning Next Week, Elementary Schools Dec. 7th, Middle and High Schools Dec. 9th

(posted 12/04/20)

TCAPS Families and Staff,

Our elementary schools are preparing to return to face-to-face learning on Monday, December 7, 2020 (Reminder: Tuesday, December 8, 2020, is an PDF Documentearly release day for most elementary buildings, the PDF DocumentBlair and Traverse Heights school calendar can be found here.), and our middle and high schools are preparing to return on Wednesday, December 9, 2020, unless extended by a Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) epidemic order.

As we head into next week, I wanted to share a few best practices with you to help our schools stay safe and open, and to help support our local health department and hospital system as they continue to work to respond to COVID-19.

If you traveled over the Thanksgiving holiday, the Grand Traverse County Health Department recommends that you self-quarantine for 10 days and monitor for symptoms, even mild symptoms. Symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Additional best practices include:

  • If your child is ill, please keep them home from school. 
  • If your child is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, contact your primary care physician or find a local COVID-19 testing center (dial 211 on your phone to learn more).
  • If you test positive for COVID-19, please immediately self-isolate.
  • If you have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19, please quarantine immediately for 10 days (if you develop any symptoms at all during that time, get tested).  
  • Keeping a quarantine/isolation journal is helpful to you and your medical providers. See the linked graphic for the most current quarantine guidance for close contacts to COVID-19 cases.                        
  • Currently, hospital systems and local health departments are reporting that small, social gatherings of more than one household are the biggest mechanism of spread for COVID-19. Here is some External Linkadditional information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to help keep our community safe.

Further, in accordance with the latest MDHHS Epidemic Order (MCL 333.2253), students must wear masks outside when they are unable to maintain a 6-foot distance. Therefore, you may hear from your elementary-aged student that they are wearing masks at recess when they are playing together.

Elementary students will receive their meals at school next week. Middle and high school students and UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand students can continue to pick meals up at any secondary building between 7:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. 

Additionally, we recognize that this year has put additional pressures and challenges on each of us. Please know that TCAPS and other community organizations are here to help. Some resources to support the social and emotional health and your child and your family include:

As we have said many times over the last few months, our goal is to provide as much face-to-face learning as is safe and possible this school year because we know the benefits and positive impacts that the school environment has on so many of our children. We will continue to monitor a number of factors, including available staffing, on a daily basis and we will continue to provide updates and information as it becomes available. 

Wishing you and your family a safe and pleasant weekend. 

Sincerely,

John R. VanWagoner II, Ph.D
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

New Options for Quarantine

Transition to Remote Learning K-12 Through December 8th

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

On Sunday Nov. 15th, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) issued an External LinkEpidemic Order (MCL 333.2253), which moved all high schools in the state to remote learning. For grades K-8, school districts were left to make local decisions about continued operations, with guidance from their local health department. TCAPS announced shortly thereafter, with support from the Grand Traverse County Health Department, that K-12 would begin remote learning starting Wednesday, November 18, 2020, and continue through December 8, 2020, to help navigate the increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases and quarantines in various schools. 

At last night’s Board of Education meeting, the plan was unanimously supported after a discussion that focused on a number of key factors that school leaders and health professionals have been watching closely when considering continuing face to face learning: 

  • Staffing Levels
  • Contact Tracing and Public Health Capacity
  • Positivity Rate/Community Spread/School Transmission
  • Hospital Capacity

While we want to provide as much face-to-face instruction as is safe and possible this school year, concerns over any of these factors, or all of them, could lead us to need to close schools to face-to-face learning for a temporary or more extended period of time. Current information related to the factors monitored include:

Staffing Levels

  • Over the last few weeks, it has become increasingly difficult to staff classrooms appropriately. Prior to moving secondary buildings to remote instruction, the district's sub fill rate was approximately 78%. After redeploying subs from secondary buildings to elementary buildings, the district's sub fill rate only increased to 85%. When substitute teachers or guest teachers are not available, other building teachers and principals cover those classrooms. Unfortunately, this has been frequent, particularly over the past few weeks. Further, as demand for guest teachers is increasing, due to the amount of staff quarantined, the number of available guest teachers is decreasing. It is further decreasing as many guest teachers are in higher risk categories for COVID-19 and do not want to risk working during a pandemic.

Contact Tracing and Public Health Capacity 

  • With the recent jump in the number of new positive cases of COVID-19 being confirmed daily, efforts to identify close contacts is taxing the local and state health department systems. School district support for contact tracing efforts related to school-associated cases is also very time consuming and can require significant school district staff involvement, currently on a 7-day per week basis. 

Positivity Rates*/Community Spread/School Transmission

  • According to the External Linkstate dashboard, the current 7-day positivity rate for Grand Traverse County is 10.2% (as of 11/14/20). Yesterday, the Grand Traverse County Health Department reported 44 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the cumulative total to 506 new cases since the beginning of November. This increase in cases of COVID-19 in the community has a direct impact on schools. While additional health and safety measures this year in our school buildings do appear to have helped reduce transmission of the virus, community spread continues to impact the ability of schools to function as families and staff are advised to quarantine by the health department or their primary care physician.
  • The estimated total number of students and staff who have quarantined to date based on health department contract tracing efforts is 760. This includes 235 students and 50 staff members who are currently quarantining (Elementary Schools - 75, Middle Schools - 110, High Schools - 80). In addition, TCAPS has notified the public of 30 school associated cases.* 
  • Individual school buildings are monitored for outbreaks or evidence of transmission in schools. If ongoing transmission is evident, that is a factor considered by the Health Department. So far, there has not been evidence of ongoing transmission in a TCAPS school demonstrating the effectiveness of all the mitigation measures in place in schools and effective isolation and quarantine measures. 

    *All numbers reported are based on the best available information provided to the district by the Grand Traverse County Health Department. These numbers change daily as the Health Department completes contact tracing efforts related to both school-associated and non-school-associated positive cases of COVID-19.

Hospital Capacity

  • Last Thursday, hospital leaders from across the state, including Munson Healthcare President and CEO Ed Ness, sounded the alarm about the exponential rate of infection spread as patients fill emergency rooms and hospital beds and about the need to reduce community spread of the virus. 

Our objective continues to be to maintain the health and safety of all of our students and staff while continuing to deliver high quality instruction under any delivery model: face-to-face, remote, or virtual. Further, we continue to be prepared to support our family’s technology needs, our students’ social and emotional health and wellbeing, and to provide healthy meals for students during the remote learning period. Please contact your child’s school if you need additional support accessing services for your student. 

Thank you to our families and staff who have worked hard to make his three-week district wide transition to remote learning as smooth as possible for our students. We understand the additional burden this places on families and staff as we move between modes of learning. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is not sympathetic to these challenges and continues to spread at a high rate. However, if we work together over the next three weeks and limit and/or modify our activities to help reduce further spread of COVID-19 in our community, we can again open our schools to face-to-face learning. Click here for MDHHS guidance for holiday travel and gatherings. 

We appreciate your ongoing partnership in your child’s education. We also appreciate your continued support of our schools as we work to provide the best education and most supportive learning environment possible for our students under challenging and changing circumstances.

Sincerely,

John R. VanWagoner II, Ph.D. 
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Remote Learning Days Called for All K-12 Students November 18th-December 8th

(November 15, 2020)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

In light of the new External LinkEpidemic Order (MCL 333.2253) issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) tonight, Sunday November 15, 2020, the rising cases of COVID-19 in the community, and ongoing staffing challenges, all TCAPS schools K-12 will begin remote learning starting Wednesday, November 18, 2020, and continue with remote instruction through December 8, 2020. 

School will be held face-to-face for all elementary school students on Monday, November 16th and Tuesday, November 17th. Remote learning will begin for elementary school students on Wednesday, November 18, 2020. Middle school and high school students were already scheduled to learn remotely the week of November 16th. Tonight’s announcement extends the remote learning for secondary students by two weeks. Meals will be available at each school building from 7:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Preschool and Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP) classrooms will continue face-to-face as allowed by the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). 

While school campuses are closed and remote learning is taking place, parents, staff, and community members are reminded to continue to monitor themselves and their children closely for symptoms of COVID-19 illness, which are fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. Further, families are urged to limit social gatherings, encourage mask wearing, maintain social distancing whenever possible, and to use proper hygiene in order to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

Please look for additional information about how to access your student’s learning from your student’s school or teacher(s). Additional information and updates will be provided as they become available. For additional information, visit: www.tcaps.net/safestart

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Important COVID-19 Information: Remote Learning Days to Continue Nov. 16-20 for Middle School and High School Students, Elementary schools to remain open for face-to-face learning

(November 13, 2020)

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

Earlier this week we announced that our middle schools and high schools would move to remote learning due to immediate staffing challenges facing the district. Today, the school district is announcing that remote learning will continue for middle school and high school students from Monday, November 16, 2020, through Friday, November 20, 2020. 

Additional information about how middle and high school students can continue to access their learning remotely will be provided by their school and/or teachers. Meals will be available daily for pick-up at each school building during the time designated as lunch on the Google Docremote schedule

The reason for continued remote learning at the secondary level is ongoing staffing challenges in key areas including, guest teachers, noon duty aides, and bus drivers. We do not expect these staffing challenges to improve over the next week. Therefore, secondary schools will continue remote learning through the next week. With the middle schools and high schools operating remotely, available staff are able to be redeployed to support in-person learning at the elementary schools. We hope to limit the need to shift to remote learning due to staffing constraints as much as possible, however, without sufficient staff to operate, we are left to prioritize the operations we can continue safely with available staff. 

We continue to work closely with health professionals from the Grand Traverse County Health Department and Munson Medical Center to review data and to collaborate on our regional response to COVID-19. At this time, we are able to continue face-to-face learning for our elementary school students and licensed child care programs with current staffing numbers and we have not received a recommendation from health professionals that we should not be  operating our schools face-to-face at this time. Therefore, all TCAPS elementary schools are scheduled to be open for face-to-face learning next week. 

Our goal remains to provide face-to-face instruction for as long as we are able because we recognize the benefits to the students and families who chose this learning option this school year. We also recognize the burden on students, families, and staff when we have to close school campuses or shift to remote learning. However, in order to continue face-to-face learning, we need your help. Please continue to monitor yourself and your children closely for symptoms of COVID-19, which include fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, or diarrhea. Please do not come to school if you are ill or experiencing symptoms. Further, families are urged to limit social gatherings, encourage mask wearing, maintain social distancing whenever possible, and to use proper hygiene in order to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community.

Moving forward, we will continue to monitor the situation daily and will continue to communicate with you as updates and information become available. I truly can’t thank you enough for all of the support, kind words, and thought-provoking messages that I have received over the last few months as we work together to address an issue none of us thought we would ever see in our lifetime: a global pandemic. Thank you for being our partner in your child’s education. For additional information, visit: www.tcaps.net/safestart

Sincerely, 

John VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Community Letter Regarding Upcoming Holidays

Stay Safe to Stay Open

With the recent increase of positive cases across the region, health officials are urging families to consider modified holiday celebrations that are small, local, and encourage wearing of masks, social distancing, and proper hygiene practices to help slow the spread of the virus. Our goal is to stay safe, keep our schools open face-to-face, and our businesses and economy moving forward.

Please take a moment to read the PDF DocumentOctober 23, 2020, community letter regarding the upcoming holidays and guidance to consider before, during and after a gathering to stay safe this holiday season. This information is being shared as part of a joint collaboration of regional health officers, school leadership and community leaders. 

TCAPS Families,

I would like to invite you to participate in a External Linkshort 2020-21 Safe Start Feedback Survey to share how your student's learning experience has been so far this school year.

Your input will be useful as we work to continuously improve the quality of the learning options and supporting tools that we provide to our students and families. 

Responses will be accepted through the end of day on Monday, November 2, 2020. Thank you in advance for your feedback and your time.

Take the Survey Now

Sincerely,

John R. VanWagoner II, PhD
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

Meal Service Information for "No School" Days

TCAPS students participating in the district's face-to-face learning option will still have access to meals for the November "No School" days designated in the district school year calendar. Meal service information for the November days where school is not in session is as follows: 

  • Tuesday, November 3rd (Election Day) - No School for Students
    On request, additional meals may be picked up during the Saturday, October 31st, meal distribution at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
     
  • November 25-27 (Thanksgiving Recess) - No School for Students
    Meals for the three day period may be picked on Wednesday, November 25th, at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m.
     
  • November 28-29 Weekend
    The regular Saturday weekend meal service option will resume on Saturday, November 28th, for Saturday and Sunday meals. Pickup is at TC West Middle School between 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. 

The weekly meal service schedule for students participating in the district's UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand options remains unchanged. Saturday meal pickups for November will be held on November 7th, 14th, 21st, and 28th, from 8:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. at TC West Middle School. 

October 6th Message from the Superintendent

Staff and Families,

Thank you for a successful first few weeks of the school year. I have been grateful for the ongoing support and flexibility of our parents as we entered this unique year. I have also been very impressed with the high quality teaching and learning that I have seen our staff delivering throughout the district, whether in-person or virtually, and I am proud of the top notch levels of service that our support staff continues to provide to our students, families and their coworkers. 

What I have been most impressed with, however, is the resiliency and positivity that I see our students bringing to school with them each day. Even as their daily routines and other things they knew to be “normal” parts of school life are changed or reimagined this year, our students continue to adapt and grow. It is incredible to witness. Without the commitment, support and cooperation of thousands of TCAPS families, students and staff, we would not have been able to achieve so many things together during a difficult and constantly changing time. Thank you.

As you know, one of the health and safety measures that TCAPS has included in its planning for this school year, which is designed to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, is having students and staff wear masks in school buildings and on buses, except under specific circumstances or with a medical waiver. Mask wearing adds an important layer of protection and is part of the district’s PDF DocumentCOVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and thePDF DocumentExtended COVID-19 Learning Plan, which was approved by the TCAPS Board of Education and the state, as required by legislation that was passed and signed into law in mid-August. 

While you may have read about the recent ruling by the Michigan Supreme Court regarding the Governor’s emergency executive order authorities or the subsequent PDF Documentemergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services late yesterday regarding gatherings and mask wearing, please note that the district intends to continue to follow the health and safety measures as outlined in our plan, including the use of masks at school. Our plan will be revisited each month by the Board of Education, as required by law. We appreciate the effort that everyone has put into complying with new routines this year, and we recognize that by layering multiple health and safety measures, including mask wearing, we are helping to keep our schools open for face-to-face instruction.

In addition, I wanted to make you aware that the school district has an Operating Millage/Headlee Rollback Prevention proposal on the November 3, 2020 ballot. It is the funding source that allows the district to receive the minimum per pupil funding from the state. Please find additional information about the proposal below or by visiting: www.tcaps.net/millage

operating millage

TCAPS Announces New Free Meal Distribution Site

Meal Pickups on Saturdays at Traverse City West Middle School

TCAPS will continue to provide free nutritious meals to all children age 18 or under (or students with disabilities under age 26) through the end of 2020 (or until funding runs out**). Beginning Saturday, September 19, 2020, meal distribution will be offered once per week on Saturdays at Traverse City West Middle School (3950 Silver Lake Rd.).

Meals for families participating in the UpNorth Virtual program and children within the community can receive an entire week’s worth of meal components each Saturday from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Students returning to face-to-face instruction on September 21, 2020, will receive daily meals at their school. Beginning September 26, 2020, they can pick up weekend meals on Saturdays from 8:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Meals will be distributed in the front parking lot between the main entrance and the loading dock. The person picking up the meals is asked to stay in their car. Food service staff members will deliver the meals directly to you.

Google DocAdditional information regarding the 2020-2021 Food and Nutrition Services plan can be found here.

**Apply Today for Free & Reduced Meals 

The USDA waivers that are allowing TCAPS to offer these free meals to families are set to expire on 12/31/20, but the USDA has also announced that they may expire sooner. Due to this announcement, we strongly recommend that parents apply for free and reduced priced meals now. That will allow students that qualify for free and reduced meals to seamlessly receive those benefits if the USDA announces that the free meals are ending. Applications must be completed each year; those applications are also used for several other grant programs in TCAPS. In addition, students who qualify for free and reduced meals also qualify for college application fee waivers and SAT/ACT fee waivers. So please submit your Free & Reduced Meals Application here.

For students with allergies, please fill out this form and return it to your school on an annual basis.

September 4, 2020 - Back to School Message

TCAPS Families and Staff, 

When I began writing this letter, two words that are a well known part of U.S. Marine training kept popping into my head: “Adapt and Overcome.” In my brief time with TCAPS, I have seen incredible work being done over countless hours on behalf of your children. TCAPS truly lives up to its reputation of excellence across the state and staff is working around the clock to prepare to welcome you, our students and families, to the 2020-21 academic year. I am so proud to be part of this talented, hard working team, and I am proud to have joined such a welcoming community that values education and cares about its schools.

Here is how I see the idea of adapting and overcoming relating to our safe return to school: 

A - Acceptance - This is the hand we were dealt, so we must rise up, problem-solve, and prepare to deliver.

D - Delivery - Our 100% highly qualified teaching staff are ready to deliver education to our students. 

A - Affirmation - We know this will be a fluid and constantly changing time and we will constantly review what we are doing and make any necessary adjustments along the way. 

P - Patience - Throughout this challenging time, we must each extend kindness and empathy to one another and exercise patience. The bottom line is our staff wants what is best for your student and nothing less. 

T - Together - Thank you for remaining with us. Together, we can do this.

As we previously announced, TCAPS will begin the academic year on Tuesday, September 8, 2020, with remote instruction. In a very short amount of time, this incredibly dedicated and hard working staff has definitely ADAPTed. They have come up with different options for learning designed to meet the needs of your family - all of which will offer personal attention to your student; whether face-to-face, UpNorth Virtual Live, or UpNorth Virtual On Demand. 

Most importantly, our staff and community clearly have a can-do attitude to OVERCOME the challenges. Together, we will get the job of teaching our children done with the compassion and attention they deserve. I encourage you to visit the www.tcaps.net/safestart website for additional information and updates. I also encourage you to stay tuned to messages and information coming from your child’s school.   

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I want to thank you for trusting in TCAPS to not only provide your students with the high-quality education they deserve, but to also do so in an unprecedented time of change. To the many members of our staff who have worked so hard over these past months to provide these opportunities, thank you. Our students’ health and well-being will always be at the forefront of our decision-making.

No matter which educational option your family chose this year, we are committed to making this a positive and successful year of learning for your child. While this year will inevitably bring with it some changes to our normal routines and challenges we will have to face, we know that with our parents, our families, and our community as our partners, we can use this year to learn, grow, and succeed together.

As an additional resource, please find 2020-2021 Safe Start At-A-Glance information:

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable holiday weekend.

Sincerely,

Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

On August 31, 2020, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it is extending a suite of nationwide waivers through the end of 2020, or until funding runs out. This will allow TCAPS to offer breakfast and lunch at no cost. Free “Packaged to go” breakfast and lunch will be offered to all children age 18 or under (or students with disabilities under age 26). Weekend meals will also be available. 

View district menus here.

Remote Learning or UpNorth Virtual

  • During remote learning September 8-18, all buildings will have breakfast and lunch available for pickup from 7:00 A.M. to 8:00 A.M.  
  • Meals will be handed out Monday through Friday; weekend meals will be handed out with Friday’s meals. 
  • Parents can select what school they would like to pick up the meals from (does not have to be the home school).
  • The person picking up the meals should use the designated entrance and they will receive the pre-packaged meals.

Google DocClick here for meal delivery locations.

August 24, 2020 - TCAPS  Safe Start Plan Summary

TCAPS Families, 

Tonight, the district presented a summary of the Google SlideTCAPS Safe Start Plan to the Board of Education, which is shared with families at www.tcaps.net/safestart. Please also find a short Video Documentvideo highlighting some of the safety procedures for the 2020-2021 school year. We hope you will find the summary presentation answers many questions about what the first two weeks of school will look like for those enrolling in face-to-face instruction (both while operating remotely Sept. 8-18 and once in-person instruction resumes on Sept. 21)** and the options available under the UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand programs. 

We also wanted to share that the deadline to indicate your interest in enrolling in the UpNorth Virtual Live program has been extended. Families interested in the program are asked to fill out this Google Formsform by 11:59 p.m. on August 26th. (Please note: this form does not constitute enrollment into the UpNorth Virtual Live program, but is intended to inform the district if sufficient interest in the program exists. A minimum of 25 students per course is required in order for a course to be offered. Should there be sufficient interest, families will be notified of any additional registration requirements.) Families who may have questions in addition to those answered in the Google SlideTCAPS Safe Start Plan or Google DocUpNorth Virtual FAQs about the UpNorth Virtual offerings are invited to attend a virtual parent information session, which will be held on Tuesday, August 25th from 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Please submit questions for the session using this Google Formsform. Questions may be submitted up until 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th.

Families can participate via Google Meet using the information below. 

TCAPS UpNorth Virtual Family Information Session

  • What: Opportunity to ask questions related to the UpNorth Virtual Live and On Demand programs.
  • When: Tuesday, August 25, 2020, 5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. 
  • How to Participate: Join with Google Meet meet.google.com/tkm-zuhz-sty, or join by phone +1 585-491-9525 (PIN: 830136494)
  • How to Submit Questions: Submit questions at: Google Formshttps://forms.gle/5w1a4pMqFWvQ9rJ68 by 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 25th. Any questions submitted after the deadline or that are not able to be answered during the session, will be added to the UpNorth Virtual Frequently Asked Questions document found online at www.tcaps.net/upnorthvirtual

** Mode of instruction (face-to-face, hybrid, or remote) determined based on current health recommendations, state reopening phases, and other health and safety information. The Traverse City region is currently in Phase 5.

Sincerely,

Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools

COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and the TCAPS Safe Start Plan

On August 10, 2020, the Board of Education approved the district’s state-required COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and the TCAPS Safe Start Plan. Under the TCAPS Safe Start Plan, the school year will begin virtually on September 8th and continue online for the first two weeks of school, with face-to-face instruction planned to begin on September 21st. You can PDF Documentview the presentation shared at the August 10th Board meeting on the district’s website, which includes the COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan and results from the staff and parent return to school surveys. The Board will hear an update regarding school reopening plans and COVID-19 trends at its meeting on September 14th.

Students will begin the first two weeks of the school year with remote instruction where they will get to know their teachers and classroom procedures, practice using online learning tools, and begin learning course content. The virtual start will help prepare students, families, and staff in the event that a classroom, school or the entire district is required to move to a fully virtual format at some point during the school year. Staff will also have the opportunity for on-the-job training on new cleaning protocols and building procedures as well as have the opportunity to receive further training on Brightspace, the district’s new online teaching and learning platform for all classrooms.

With the two-week online TCAPS Safe Start Plan now in place, we will be sharing additional information with families in the coming weeks, including how to access technology and what to expect during the first two weeks of school. We will also be working closely with union leadership to clarify employee expectations and to outline the blend of work and training opportunities available for staff during the first two weeks of school. Specific information related to each labor group will be shared with staff as it becomes available.

We know how important the reopening of our schools is to our community, which is why it is critical that we do everything in our power to get it right. By taking a measured approach to beginning the 2020-2021 school year, we will be better prepared to start school safely and the extra time will give us the ability to see how school reopening proceeds in other districts in the state and to adjust our plan should it be necessary. Thank you for your continued support and understanding as we work through our COVID-19 response together.

Sincerely, 

Dr. John VanWagoner
Superintendent, Traverse City Area Public Schools