Return to School Fall 2020. Berkley Schools Starts Online until at least the end of the first Marking Period, October 30, 2020

Return to School Roadmap - Fall 2020

Berkley School District will resume school online for all, until at least the end of the first marking period, October 30, 2020.

Currently, the Detroit Region of Michigan is in Phase 4 the Economic Plan. Beginning the school year in Phase 4 means Berkley Schools will open following the guidelines for Instruction, Option I - Online for All, in the Return to School Roadmap. Once it has been determined safe to return to the classroom, the District will survey families to see if a continued virtual option is needed.

On August 3, 2020, the Board of Education approved the Berkley School District Return to School Roadmap linked below.

Berkley Schools Return to School Roadmap

The 27 page Berkley Schools Return to School Roadmap outlines how school will be handled in each phase of the Governor's plan. The community is encouraged to read the plan in its entirety. The plan includes details on safety protocols, mental and social-emotional wellness, instruction and operations.

  • Safety Protocols: mask wearing, cleaning procedures, responding to positive tests, food service, gathering capacities, athletics, and more
  • Mental & Social-Emotional Wellness: curriculum, student lessons, staff & student wellness, partnerships, surveys, and more
  • Instruction: details on learning in each phase, details for online and in-person options, systems for delivering instruction, considerations for all levels, and more
  • Operations: budget, food service, enrollment, staffing, facilities and technology details

Featured Video

Watch the video below and hear Superintendent Dennis McDavid share his reasoning for starting the school year online.

Phase 4, Option I  Online Learning for All

Click on the expandable menus below for access to details about online learning for all.

Online for All Details

All students will begin the 2020-21 year in remote instruction and continue online through at least the first card marking period (October 30, 2020). Once it has been determined safe to return to the classroom, the District will survey families to see if a continued virtual option is needed.

In order to hold more robust learning for both in-person and online instruction, the District invested in an online Learning Management System, Schoology. All teachers will use this system, which has the capacity to deliver live instruction, post assignments, assign grades and communicate with students. Schoology will support an online learning environment in the following ways:

  • All teachers will use Schoology to deliver instruction
  • Schoology offers students the opportunity to see assignments and grades, participate in group discussions, interact with teachers and other students, track their progress, turn in assignments, monitor progress and homework due dates, plus much more
  • Schoology is a tool that students use daily to interface with the teacher on assignments and coursework.  It also allows parents to manage their child’s academic progress, including combining children into one parent login.

In addition to Schoology, families will be provided with the material lists they may need to help implement learning at home. Consideration will be made to also provide packets of information for students to complete without their electronic devices.
Expectations for participation, assignments and attendance will also be shared with all students and parents prior to the school year beginning.

Elementary Online Schedule: Grades TK-5

Once the finalized schedule is ready, it will be posted here and emailed to all. Below are important details to know about the elementary online daily schedule.

  • Teachers will deliver live lessons daily
  • Daily lessons will include math and English language arts, with half the class at a time
  • Science and Social Studies assignments and projects will be posted in Schoology
  • Students can expect to participate in online instruction for 1.5 - 3 hours per day broken up by breaks, depending on the grade level
  • Specials will be offered to all students
  • Berkley Schools will provide a detailed schedule for all grade levels
  • Time is added in to the day for students who need accommodations, small conferences, and/or resource room support
  • Students with special needs will also receive online instruction and teachers will work closely with families to deliver content in an appropriate way
  • Families will be provided with the material lists they may need to help implement learning at home.
  • Consideration will be made to also provide packets of information for students to complete without their electronic devices.

Secondary Online Schedule: Grades 6-12

Below are important details to know about the secondary online daily schedule.

  • Students will follow a block A/B schedule
  • Fridays will rotate A/B
  • Norup, Anderson and BHS will send out building specific schedules
  • Middle School instructional blocks will be an hour and fifteen minutes each and include live teaching
  • High School instructional blocks will be an hour and a half each and include live teaching
  • A support block of time will be available for interventions and individual student conferences
  • Students will follow their in-class schedules for the live online lessons
  • Secondary students can expect to participate in online instruction for 3 - 4.5 hours per day broken up by breaks, depending on the grade level
  • Schoology will be used to support at-home learning on students’ off days

Mental & Social-Emotional Health

Mental and Social-Emotional Health will take a front seat during the 2020-21 school year. Berkley School District recognizes that mental health among staff and students needs to be a priority based on survey data from both groups. In a summer 2020 survey, 71% of parents reported behavior changes in their children since the pandemic began. 63% of staff reported anticipating feeling overwhelmed, anxious, depressed or otherwise upon their return to work.

Knowing this data, it is imperative that the District take a close focus on serving the mental health needs of all our stakeholders. Without this focus, teaching and learning will be challenging.

The Berkley School District will implement the following strategies for Phase 4.

  • Adopt a new social-emotional curriculum, Second Step, for students grades TK-8
  • All students, grades TK-8, will engage in a weekly social and emotional lesson
  • Continue the Sources of Strength program at Berkley High School as well as access to counselors
  • Students will be asked to respond weekly to a mental health screening assessment to evaluate if any supports are needed
  • Survey families to assess the mental health needs of our students
  • Provide parent resources to help their children with mental health needs
  • Partner with community mental health agencies to provide mental health support for students and staff
  • Establish the position of a Wellness Coordinator. The Wellness Coordinators will be filled by current Berkley Schools mental health professionals. They will provide assistance implementing the social-emotional curriculum, present at staff meetings, and check in with staff in the building.
  • Actively share mental health resources to staff through the bi-weekly staff newsletter, the staffHUB
  • Develop a regular check in mechanism for staff members during remote learning
  • Provide staff with training to identify students at risk while delivering online instruction

Special Education

The Special Education Team has been working to outline all details for families with students with special needs. The team continues to meet regularly to finalize a plan to deliver instruction in the online environment. As soon as all details are ready, it will be shared with all families.


Before the school year begins, the District’s technology team will survey families to identify tech needs for each student, including computers and internet hotspots. Berkley School District is not a 1 to 1 district, but devices will be available to support online learning for staff and students.

Schoology - Online Learning Management System

Schoology is the online Learning Management System teachers will use to deliver online instruction.

We also heard loud and clear in our surveys from the spring that while parents and guardians were proud of our teachers for their rapid switch to deliver instruction online, they also wanted less logins, less systems and as much streamlining as possible. We believe Schoology accomplishes all of these requests.

Schoology has the capacity to deliver instruction live, post assignments, assign grades and communicate with students.

Schoology offers students the opportunity to see assignments and grades, participate in group discussions, interact with teachers and other students, track their progress, turn in assignments, monitor progress and homework due dates, plus much more. Schoology is a tool that students can use daily to interface with the teacher on assignments and coursework. It also allows parents to manage their child’s academic progress.

Parents can merge their children inside of the system to allow one access to see all work for all children. Parents will access Schoology with their MISTAR Parent Portal logins and students will access it with their school Google login credentials. In addition, Schoology has an App for families to use.

As we merge MISTAR with Schoology, we’ll send additional communications on how to access the system, and the difference between Schoology and MISTAR.

Letter to the Community

August 4, 2020

Dear Berkley Schools Community,

Over the past few months our administrative team along with teachers, custodians, secretaries, and paraprofessionals worked diligently to create a Return to School Roadmap. This guiding document was created following the Governor’s MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap as well as guidance from the CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics. In addition to committee meetings, we surveyed our parents and staff to garner as much input from our stakeholders as possible as well as held meetings with the PTSA Council and students. Once we were nearly complete with this phase of the work, our Cabinet team met with the Board of Education for two workshops to discuss planning, concerns and educational options. All of this was with the goal of returning to school in person.

After considering the work the team completed, outlining all the steps needed to return to our buildings, as well as balancing all of the required safety protocols, the what-ifs and unknowns, last night, at a Board of Education Special Meeting, I recommended to the Board of Education that we begin our school year fully online. The Board approved this recommendation. We believe safety is our number one priority, and if we really stand by that principle, then I could not recommend opening our buildings to in-person instruction. We will begin the year all online at least through the end of the first marking period, October 30, 2020.

I’d like to take this opportunity to share how I arrived at this recommendation. As our teams worked to find solutions to all requirements in the Governor’s plan, it became very clear to me that we would hit many roadblocks as we returned to school in-person. With every fiber of my being I want our students back in our schools, but as we worked through the issues we found more and more blockers to a safe return. We began to focus our work on the “what-ifs.” What if staff and students became sick and we had to close classrooms or buildings? What if we had a year that was full of starts and stops because of a need to quarantine students or staff because of a suspected case? How long would those disruptions last and how often would they happen? And how many of those disruptions do you need to have before you lose any value you gain from in-person learning? What if the coronavirus spread through our schools and infected our community on a large scale? What if our custodians became sick and we didn’t have enough staff to disinfect our buildings? What if we couldn’t hire enough staff to complete the required cleaning protocols? And many more. We believe we could start the year with some kind of in-person option, probably hybrid learning, but given the fluid nature of the virus we remain concerned about how long we could stay open because of the kinds of disruptions mentioned above. In the end we believe that a consistent, stable and safe learning environment is key to moving forward.

Inside of our Return to School roadmap you will see details on safety, wellness, instruction and operations. We have detailed what online learning will look like, how much time will be required in front of a device daily and which systems we will use to make this fall a very robust and successful time of learning. We are happy to share we purchased an online Learning Management System, Schoology, to have one system where all teaching and learning will take place, rather than multiple systems like we offered in the spring. We also detailed what returning for in-person instruction will look like and what safety precautions will be required, when it is safe to do so.

I appreciate all who spoke at our Board meeting sharing their concerns. We heard you and will work to address all concerns over the next month. As we begin discussions on evaluating if it is safe to return to the classroom, we’ll be sure to let the community know when those are happening and how they can participate.

Please understand the recommendation for beginning the year fully online was not made lightly. I know this is not the direction we were leaning three weeks ago. I know that starting online creates many challenges to all of our families. We also know that families who have students with special needs will be particularly impacted. Those families will receive an email this week from Director of Student Services Heather Lackey outlining what her team is working on to prepare for the school year, including how services will be delivered online.

In the time of a global pandemic, flexibility is the word I keep coming back to. As frustrating as unknowns and course changes are, the nature of a novel virus is that it’s new, experts don’t know everything about it and as scientists learn more they change their recommendations for safe practices. And, as the science changes, our response needs to change, too. Recent studies are now saying children as young as 10 spread the virus just as rapidly as adults. And, because the virus is not well controlled in Michigan, the Governor just last week, reduced indoor gathering maximums to 10 people. I’m not sure why we believe the virus will behave differently in schools where 100s gather inside for prolonged periods every day. 

In the coming weeks you will learn more about online learning. Our team is also thinking through potential options for child care for our families in greatest need as well as what food service distribution will look like. There are more components to returning to school that will be finalized and shared as they are completed.

You can view the complete 27 page plan on our Return to School website as well as Frequently Asked Questions. We will continue to develop this website as additional back to school planning is completed. Please also know that this is a 60 day plan. If other schools choose to open for face-to-face learning and don’t have the kinds of issues that we anticipate, we can pivot to in-person learning as outlined in our Phase 4 Instructional Plan under Option II - Return to the Classroom.

We all care deeply about the health and wellness of our students and staff and will always make decisions in the best interest of their safety. I welcome any questions or concerns, and I wish you all well through the last month of the summer break.


Dennis McDavid
Berkley School District

What We Know

  • All students will begin in 100% Online for All at home for the 1st Marking Period
  • The first day of school for all students will be Monday, August 31, 2020
  • Online for All is not the same as the Continuation of Learning, which was a response to an immediate crisis last spring
  • Students will not face 6 straight hours of screen time
  • There will be set times for direct, live instruction, small group or individual instruction, and then independent work time
  • Our teachers are experts and they will make Online for All a robust, enriching experience for their learners
  • We always strive for inclusion for our special education services and as always, all planning and decision making will be done with students with special needs as a top priority
  • Not all independent work will be on the computer
  • All assignments and standards will be covered just like in-person
  • Flexibility will be key
  • Online assignments and assessments will be graded
  • Berkley Building Blocks Early Childhood Center will remain open with in-person programming for tuition families with additional health and safety guidelines in place, following all licensing guidelines.
  • As we move forward, our decision-making will remain guided by health, safety, equity in learning, science, and the many needs of our stakeholders in the midst of a dangerous global pandemic

What We Don't Know

  • Health conditions will be reevaluated prior to the end of 1st Marking Period on October 30 in the hopes that an in-person schedule would be possible
  • Daily schedules by school or grade level will be made available in August
  • Childcare will be a real need for many of our families. We are working to find solutions for our families in greatest need.
  • Aramark, our Food Service provider, is working to finalize the food distribution plans for our families who receive free or reduced lunch at school

Guiding Principles

As the Return to School committee worked throughout the summer to plan the District’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the responsibility was the safety of staff and students. The priority was a comprehensive plan for instructional options for all families. As the work progressed, the group referenced the work of the CDC, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the State of Michigan plans. The CDC and the Oakland County Health Division provided health guidance.

Return to School Committee

Return to School Roadmap Committee

The Berkley School District formed the Return to School Roadmap Committee with representatives from the administrative team, teaching staff, Thinc leaders, union leaders and will include input from staff and parent/guardian surveys. There are four subcommittees that comprise the larger committee. All members are listed, below.

Facilities Committee

Chaired by Larry Gallagher, Deputy Superintendent of Finance, Facilities & Operations
Jon Barth, Operations Facilitator; Jenna Romain, Accounting Supervisor; Bob Merkle, Custodian - Angell; Barb Tombrillo, Executive Assistant to Larry Gallagher; Paul Yowchuang, Norup Principal; Jen Simone, Teacher - BHS; Beth Krehbiel, Burton Principal; Katie Fotiu, Early Childhood Supervisor; Natalie Hill, Secretary - Rogers; Lauren Wexler, Teacher - Angell; Amy Sarris, Teacher - BHS; a representative from ServiCar, transportation provider

Operations Committee

Chaired by Chris Sandoval, Assistant Superintendent of Schools & Human Resources
Jen Poston, Pupil Accounting Supervisor; Molly Bascom-Keller, Teacher - Burton; Megan Blackwell, Teacher - BHS; Cindy Barna, Secretary - AMS; Steve Lyskawa, Teacher - Norup; Erin Haley, Executive Assistant to Chris Sandoval; Andy Meloche, BHS Principal; Jen Hiltunen, Teacher - AMS; Chris Smallwood, Custodian - Norup; Meghan Ashkanani, Pattengill Principal; Vince Gigliotti, Angell Principal; Lori Stone, BHS Athletic Coordinator; LaVon Larson, Food Services Director

Wellness Committee

Chaired by Heather Lackey, Director of Student Services
Jennifer Gebbie, CASA Director; Ruth Sochacki, Norup Assistant Principal; Shamika Womble, BHS Assistant Principal; Jen Rogers, Teacher - Rogers; Sheri Sienkiewicz, Paraeducator - BHS; Jackie Whitehead, Executive Assistant to Heather Lackey; Jim Cowdrey, AMS Assistant Principal; Laurie Ovies, Teacher - Angell; District Social Workers; District School Psychologists; District Counselors

Instruction/Technology Committee

Chaired by Scott Francis, Director of Teaching, Learning & Technology
Mary Coughlin, Supervisor of Instructional Services; Christine Halliday, Shared Time Supervisor; Kristi Metz, EL Teacher; Beth Meacham, Rogers Principal; Mike Ross, AMS Principal; Carolyn Cregar, BHS Assistant Principal; Kathy Milia, Teacher - AMS; Julie Smith, Teacher - AMS/BHS; Molly Bascom-Keller, Teacher - Burton; Lauren Villaluz, Technology Integration Specialist; Wes Prescott, Director of Technology – Field Services; Lara Overy, Executive Assistant to Scott Francis; Suzanne Tyner, Executive Assistant to Scott Francis; Nic Farquhar, Special Education Supervisor; Jeanette Rossiter, Administrative Intern; Julie Decker, Paraeducator - BHS; Shana Ramin, Teacher - Norup; Stacie Angell, Instructional Support Specialist & Teacher - AMS; Jennifer Wilcox, Instructional Support Specialist & IB Coordinator - Norup; Megan Throm, Instructional Support Specialist & Teacher - Norup; Rikki Kwas, Early Literacy Coach; Sandra LaRaia, Math Coach

Online Learning Survey Results

Online Learning Survey Results

The Berkley School District checked in with our families and staff to hear what they were feeling about returning to school in the fall. The results are posted below, minus the open-ended question results.

Parent/Guardian Survey About Returning in the Fall - June 2020

External LinkJune 1, 2020 Results: 2910 Responses

Parent/Guardian Survey About Returning in the Fall - July 6, 2020

External LinkJuly 6, 2020 Results: 3439 Responses

Parent/Guardian Survey About Returning in the Fall - July 14, 2020

External LinkJuly 14, 2020 Results: 3637 Responses

Berkley Building Blocks

Berkley Building Blocks, including tuition and Early-On programs, will follow Executive Orders, licensing requirements and family demand for the program. Berkley Building Blocks anticipates remaining open in Phase 4.

Children enrolled in the Early Childhood Special Education, Head Start and GSRP programs will learn through online instruction. Further communication will be sent from the teachers and programs to their families.

Berkley Building Blocks has established its own COVID-19 response plan and will continue to follow this plan while the program is open.

Kids' Zone Latchkey Program

Berkley Schools Kids’ Zone Latchkey program will survey families to understand the need for full-day care for families who registered for Kids’ Zone if instruction is all online. Kids’ Zone will resume the regular program of before and after-school care with safety precautions, capacity reductions and mask requirements if the District has resumed in-person instruction.

Berkley School District will make every effort to provide child care to families through the Kids’ Zone program, while following licensing guidelines.