January 9, 2022 Washtenaw Technical Middle College
Winter semester WTMC classes will begin, as-scheduled, on this Monday, January 10, 2022. I am sending you this message to clarify why we are continuing in-person classes, what you can expect from this semester, and what to do if your student or someone at home gets sick or contracts COVID-19.
Why haven’t we delayed the start of school? WTMC follows Washtenaw County Health Department guidelines, which at this point in the pandemic means doing whatever we can to preserve and protect in-person learning. We are doing this by continuing to use layered precautions, including universal masking indoors, social distancing, enhanced air filtration, and cohorting of students into groups. These measures help to create what health experts consider a low risk environment for respiratory disease transmission. Furthermore, the harms caused by school cancellations and abrupt shifts to online learning are real. They diminish learning, harm student mental health, and put our most vulnerable students at increased risk. So, for now, we are doing everything we can to keep our school open and our students in classrooms learning.
This semester, some quarantine procedures have changed so that we can reduce unnecessary days out of school while still reducing the likelihood of COVID transmission on campus. WTMC’s winter 2022 guidelines are available here. If you or someone in your household gets sick, please consult these guidelines for what to do next.
How to handle absences: Because of our COVID precautions and general rates of illness in our community, we know students this semester will need to stay home or be absent. Every WTMC class will use Blackboard as a central place students can turn to keep learning while at home. Parents can support this by helping students to log in to Blackboard, checking each course’s “announcements” section, and referring to the schedule or syllabus. Students will not be penalized for staying home when sick -- but they will need to work to make up assignments or recover learning missed while out of school.
Finally, please help us to protect our school and our community by getting vaccinated against COVID-19, or continue your course of vaccination if you have already started it. Relatively high rates of vaccination are a big part of why we are able to continue having in-person schooling, and the evidence is overwhelming that vaccination reduces the chances someone will get seriously ill or spread the sickness to others.
Karl Covert Ph.D.
Washtenaw Tecnical Middle College