Enrolling at a New School During Uncertain Times

During a normal school week, almost 30,000 children leave Detroit each morning to attend schools in districts outside the city. In response to that daily exodus, Orchard Academy was founded with a mission of establishing a school of excellence in Detroit where students could learn and grow in a safe, healthy and inclusive environment.

In response to the unanticipated challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are now closed in Michigan until at least fall and parents have found themselves in a state of uncertainty about the future of their children’s education.

As Orchard Academy prepares to welcome new students from inside and outside the city this spring for enrollment for the coming school year, we understand the importance of making sure parents and students feel safe in their decision to attend our academy.

As a new school in Detroit, the health and safety of our students is our highest priority. We are currently in the process of establishing detailed health and safety protocols for the coming school year, closely following all guidance issued by the CDC while working together with local medical experts and health agencies to create the safest possible environment for students to learn in this fall. In order to ensure a safe opening, the academy will be implementing strict social distancing facilitated through the limited enrollment of K-2 students for the first year of operation in an effort to reduce the potential for the spread of illness.

Orchard Academy is also consulting with local medical professionals and security consultants to ensure that our new building, currently under construction in Detroit’s North End neighborhood, is custom-designed with the health, safety and security of our students in mind.

The Benefits of Enrolling In Orchard Academy
Although it’s undeniable that the pandemic has created unprecedented challenges for education, Corey Northrup, executive director of the Governor John Engler Center for Charter Schools at Central Michigan University, says there are clear benefits to enrolling at a school like Orchard Academy.

Just one of the many advantages charter public schools can frequently extend to potential students and families is their size. On one hand, it allows schools the ability to be nimble and still innovate while not sacrificing quality, even during the most challenging times,” Northrup says. “It also lets schools customize learning to better care for each individual student, both within and outside of the classroom. Starting right now and most certainly into the future, these things will be more essential than ever before. When in-person instruction can safely begin again, schools like Orchard Academy will be uniquely equipped to provide an individualized learning experience that meets each child’s distinctive set of needs.”

Education Heroes
Teachers are also leading the way through the pandemic, coming up with creative ways to keep students actively interested and engaged in their education.

“One thing we’ve seen this spring, especially in the charter schools in Michigan, is that the innovation and flexibility that has come out has been pretty amazing,” says Buddy Moorehouse, Vice President of Public Relations and Media at MAPSA: Michigan’s Charter School Association. “Teachers have been given the freedom and flexibility to reinvent how they do certain things, and it’s been really encouraging to see that they’ve stepped up in a huge way. … They’ve really come up with some innovative, flexible, and very creative ideas to continue educating kids remotely.”

Positioned To Catch Up
Although remote education has certainly become a useful tool for schools and teachers during the statewide shelter-in-place response to COVID-19, the disparities between student access to internet access and remote education has been a concern for educators. As schools in Michigan prepare for a return to in-person learning in the coming school year, we understand that students in almost every classroom statewide will need to catch up on their educational progress due to those disparities.

Orchard Academy’s unique Stockwell Model of education, designed with a focus on continuous progress and mastery that allows students to move through the curriculum at their own pace, will offer our students the opportunity to catch up on the portions of their education they may have missed due to school closures or disparities in access to technology.

Diversity By Design
Our school’s commitment to “diversity by design” will also lend itself to the continued success of each child, allowing our students to build positive relationships with peers outside of their own socio-economic background while developing healthy habits of mind and learning to make smart character choices.

At Orchard Academy, we understand that parents are grappling with deep uncertainties during these difficult times. We want to assure the families of our prospective students that we are committed to their children’s health and safety, and we are doing everything possible to make sure we live up to our goal of educating the “whole child” in a safe, inclusive environment within the city of Detroit.

The staff and educators at Orchard Academy are excited to welcome our new students and their families into our tight-knit community in Detroit’s North End, and we look forward to meeting you in the coming school year.

For more information about enrolling at Orchard Academy, visit our website at www.orcharddetroit.org.

For more information about our response to COVID-19 and plans for a safe opening of the school this coming school year, click here

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