More than 10K Grand Rapids students enrolled in-person learning as districts shifts from online-only

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – More than10,000 Grand Rapids students have opted to take in-person classes this fall as the district plans to shift from online-only learning, officials said Friday, Oct. 2.

After conducting virtual learning for the first five weeks of the school year, the district will now also offer hybrid in-person learning as well as 100% virtual classes for the remainder of the calendar year.

School leaders asked parents last week to choose between the two learning options, hybrid and virtual. The deadline to respond was Monday, Sept. 28.

About 53 percent of respondents, or 5,201 students, chose hybrid learning, district leaders said. Another 5,315 students were automatically placed in the hybrid learning plan after not responding to the commitment letter, for a total of 10,516 students enrolled in hybrid classes.

Grand Rapids Public Schools is the largest district in West Michigan with more than 15,000 students. The hybrid classes will start Oct. 26 with students face to face with teachers twice a week. School leaders said 65 percent of district families, or 9,871 students, responded to the commitment letter.

Parents have until midnight Monday, Oct. 19, to switch to a different option, according to a letter sent Oct. 2 by Superintendent Leadriane Roby. After that deadline, families cannot change their decision unless under extenuating circumstances.

The district detailed how it plans to bring some students back into the classroom in a letter sent to GRPS parents Sept. 25, which includes rules for classroom sizes at 50 percent capacity and mandatory masks.

About 47 percent of families, or 4,670 students, chose to remain in virtual learning for the rest of the calendar year.

School leaders are now using those numbers to create a more detailed learning plan for the hybrid option including staffing and scheduling.

Those plans will likely be communicated to parents Oct. 9, according to Roby’s letter.

The district has released some initial plans about what hybrid learning would look like. Under the proposed hybrid model, students would be divided into two groups – Cohort A and Cohort B – and each group would get two days of in-person learning and three days of virtual learning a week.

RELATED: Mandatory masks, 50% classroom sizes: Grand Rapids Public Schools details hybrid learning plan

GRPS will work with families to make sure siblings can attend school on the same days, the district said. But families won’t be able to choose which days their child attends hybrid classes.

The district plans to have one cohort attend classes Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other cohort would attend classes Thursdays and Fridays, with everyone online on Wednesdays.

Parents can expect letters regarding transportation to arrive in the mail between Oct. 16-21, Roby said.

There will also be a number of listening sessions for students and parents in November, according to the district’s letter.

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