Update Center

Latest Communication

October 20, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

The purpose of this communication is to make you aware that officials with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) are very concerned with the alarming rise in identified positive COVID-19 cases in Ottawa and Kent counties. Trends of COVID-19 related cases in our region and state are increasing. While transmission in our schools remains incredibly low, positive cases entering our schools puts our administrators, teachers, and other students at risk and ultimately disrupts the learning environment that we have worked hard to protect.

I am pleased to report that because of the action steps we have in place to keep our students and staff healthy and safe, we have been successful in mitigating the spread of the COVID-19 virus in our schools. In order to continue this trend, it is extremely important that a student who is not feeling well remain home from school.  We have recently had to isolate and quarantine students and staff because they were exposed to students who came to school not feeling well and were eventually diagnosed with COVID.  Though a very necessary part of our action plan, placing students and staff in isolation and quarantine is always difficult. If your child was identified as having to be isolated or quarantined during the past nine weeks, we appreciate your understanding and support.

We also need your support in mitigating the spread of COVID-19 throughout Ottawa County. We have been informed by medical officials from the OCDPH that if there is a continued rise in positive COVID-19 cases in our county, our schools will most likely be significantly impacted. Health officials could issue an order temporarily, or for a longer period of time, ending face to face instruction in our school buildings.  Additionally, athletics and other extra-curricular activities could be ordered to be suspended.

In an effort to keep West Michigan schools open, Superintendents from Ottawa, Kent, and Muskegon counties are working collaboratively to rally our communities to join with us in helping to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in our region.  Attached is a joint letter signed by the Superintendents in Ottawa, Kent, and Muskegon counties.  We ALL have to do our part to ensure we will be allowed to continue providing a quality comprehensive educational experience for your children.

These are difficult times to navigate. We must not lose sight of the incredible effort so many people are making to meet the intellectual, social, emotional, and physical needs of our children. Parents working together with their schools makes an unbeatable team. Together We Are Jenison.

West Michigan Superintendent COVID Community Mitigation Letter 

Tom TenBrink
Superntendent

COVID-19 Parent Communication Updates

October 3rd Update

October 3, 2020

Dear Parents,

It has been my commitment to send you communication pertinent to the COVID-19 pandemic as quickly as possible. When I heard of the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling regarding Governor Whitmer’s Executive Orders, I knew this was something I needed to immediately address. Early this afternoon, I communicated information of which I was made aware through my various professional organizations. Subsequent investigation and discussion throughout the day has revealed the Michigan Supreme Court has disavowed our Governor’s belief that her Executive Orders are still in place for 21 days.

Many legal opinions will be rendered as to the Governor’s Executive Orders and the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling declaring them to be nonbinding in the days ahead. The implications for our school district needs further investigation. In the meantime, we are going to rely on our School Board adopted Return to Learn plan for our guidance. The details of this plan can be found on our district website under the Update Center. Within the JPS Return to Learn Plan, we will continue to allow our TK – 5th grade students to be mask free in their classrooms when appropriate. Our 6th-12th grade students will still be required to wear facemasks in our school buildings and classrooms.

I clearly understand how extremely divisive the wearing of facemasks is within our community. I have heard strong arguments by reputable medical personnel on both sides of this issue. Please keep in mind our teachers are stepping into classrooms filled with students coming from a variety of different households. Our teachers are most comfortable in serving your children when face masks are worn according to our JPS Return to Learn plan. It’s our responsibility to help keep our teachers safe and healthy so they can meet the needs of your children.

I am asking for your patience and understanding as we re-evaluate our new normal created by the Michigan Supreme Court’s ruling. It is not possible to re-do months of work in our Return to Learn plan in a 48-hour period over a weekend. Our current Return to Learn plan has been working and is preventing the spread of COVID-19 in our schools. We have successfully navigated 6 weeks of school under this plan. We will be re-evaluating every part of our Return to Learn plan through the lens of the Michigan Supreme Court’s opinion throughout this coming week.

Serving the students, families, and employees of Jenison Public Schools,

 

Tom TenBrink
Superintendent


October 3, 2020

Dear Parents,

Last night we were notified of the Michigan Supreme Court ruling regarding Governor Whitmer’s use of the Emergency Powers of Governor Act of 1945 in issuing her Executive Orders. In their 4-3 decision, the majority concluded that “the Governor lacked the authority to declare a state of emergency or a state of disaster under the EMA after April 30, 2020, on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic. …As a consequence the EPGA cannot continue to provide a basis for the Governor to exercise emergency powers.”

In her response to the Michigan Supreme Court Ruling, Governor Whitmer stated in part, “…It is important to note that this ruling does not take effect for at least 21 days, and until then, my emergency declaration and orders retain the force of law. Furthermore, after 21 days, many of the responsive measures I have put in place to control the spread of the virus will continue under alternative sources of authority that were not at issue in today’s ruling.”

So what does all of this mean for Jenison Public Schools? In our Governor’s words, for at least the next 21 days the Executive Orders she has issued are still laws that must be followed. This means the most recent Executive Order mandating the wearing of facemasks for our TK-5th grade students starting on Monday, October 5, 2020, will still be implemented. I will continue to daily monitor the work of our Governor and legislators as they provide guidance for our schools in the weeks and months ahead.  

As I mentioned in previous communications, flexibility is an important character trait necessary to navigate the uncharted rough waters we are sailing through right now. Adapting to constant change in the face of a health pandemic can be wearisome over time. With this being said, we have much for which to be grateful. Every day we celebrate the fact that over 4,400 students are walking into our classrooms for face to face instruction. Additionally, technology provides a link for our teachers to educate approximately 1,000 virtual learners. Watching our student athletes compete once again is invigorating. Knowing our marching band will be allowed to perform at our home football game on October 16, 2020, is energizing. We are moving in the right direction!

In the midst of our state and national political turmoil, I am laser focused on meeting the intellectual, physical, emotional, and social needs of our students and the JPS employees who are going above and beyond to serve your children. Thank you for continuing to partner with us in educating your children. Together We Are Jenison!

Serving the students, families, and employees of Jenison Public Schools,

 

Tom TenBrink

Superintendent

 

September 3rd Update

September 3, 2020

Dear Parents & Guardians,

As we finish our second week of the 2020-2021 school year, I want to express my sincere appreciation for your support and effort in partnering with us to provide an educational program of excellence for your children. Numerous challenging obstacles are encountered every single day, but knowing we have your support and trust makes navigating them much easier. Your children, either joining us in person or online, have been terrific. The resilience our students and staff have shown in adjusting to our new norm has been amazing. Please commend your children for the great job they are doing in wearing their face masks appropriately, social distancing, for their positive attitudes, and being faithful in their virtual attendance and participation.

COVID-19 UPDATE

I have communicated the necessity of adapting to a flexible mindset. The Ottawa County Department of Public Health (OCDPH) protocols are regularly changing based on the health needs of our community and county. We are adjusting to these protocols as they are being provided to us. I am posting on our district website, under the COVID-19 update link, two recently revised flow charts from the OCDPH. The first flow chart outlines What Happens When Someone at School Gets COVID-19? The second flow chart outlines the appropriate action for symptomatic individuals (students or staff members).

Considerable discussion and debate is occurring throughout the state regarding transparency reporting. Families want to know what kind of exposure their children are encountering in their schools. The Families Education and Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) protects the privacy of those who may have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are in quarantine because of exposure. We are committed to being transparent while being mindful of the rights of privacy afforded our students and staff.

The following information is being provided in order to bring some clarity to how we are planning to address transparency reporting moving forward:

  1. When we are made aware of an individual who has tested positive for COVID-19, that individual is excluded from our schools and instructed to isolate for 10+ days. The family is contacted by district personnel and medical officials from the Ottawa County Department of Public Health.
  2. Contact tracing is immediately launched to determine who may have been exposed to this individual. Those individuals found to have been within 6’ of this individual for an accumulative 15 minutes of time are quarantined for a minimum of 14 days. Parents of those considered to be contacts are notified as quickly as possible by district personnel with follow up written communication coming from the OCDPH.
  3. In an effort to keep you informed and provide transparency in our reporting, parents whose children were in the classroom with a child or adult diagnosed with COVID-19, but deemed not to be a contact, will be informed in writing by the building administrator.
  4. Parents with students in the school building where a COVID-19 case was confirmed will receive communication from the building principal making them aware of this fact.  

We continue to work closely with the Ottawa County Department of Public Health in implementing the best health and safety practices in alignment with the CDC. If we work together in following the established safety protocols, we will assist you in keeping your children healthy and maintain the opportunity to provide face to face instruction in our classrooms.

Thank you for choosing Jenison Public Schools to partner with you in the education of your children.

Tom TenBrink
Superintendent

August Updates

Results from our Parent Intent Form for the 20 – 21 School Year

As of August 20, 2020, Jenison Public Schools will be welcoming approximately 4,064 students to our classrooms on Tuesday, August 25th. This is approximately 81% of our students choosing to receive their education through our Traditional Model, which is face to face instruction. We have approximately 950 students who will be learning virtually in our Extended Traditional Educational Model or our Fully Online Educational Model through Jenison International Academy. Our 950 virtual learners comprise about 19% of our total student population for the 2020-2021 school year.

June Video Update

June 12th Message from Tom TenBrink

 

 

April 2nd Video messages to students

 

April 2nd Video messages from Superintendent Tom TenBrink to Students

 

TK-6th Grade Students

 

7th-11th Grade Students

 

12th Grade Students

 

March 29th Update

 

March 29, 2020

Dear Parents,

Many of you are aware of Governor Whitmer’s remarks on Friday stating it is unlikely our students will be returning to school this year. We are expecting to hear another executive order from her this coming week. This executive order will most likely address the number of missed school days that will be forgiven along with expectations regarding remote learning for the remainder of the school year. Our teachers and administrators are working diligently to respond to the needs of our JPS families within the guidelines our Governor and the Michigan Department of Education provide.

In my video message this past Thursday, I promised I would send out written communication regarding the comprehensive remote learning plans (RLPs) for elementary, junior high, and high school students. These plans will provide you with roadmaps for your children’s continued learning, since it is unlikely they will be returning to our classrooms this year. The academic resources we provide will vary according to the grade level of your children.  Unique RLPs will be available each week on our district website (www.jpsonline.org) under the heading REMOTE LEARNING PLANS. Please be advised there will be no RLPs for the week of April 6, as this was our planned spring break.

As we collectively embark on this new journey in providing remote learning opportunities, I want to emphasize how important it is to monitor the emotional and social wellbeing of your children. Our teachers will continue to make it a priority to make personal connections with their students through various virtual platforms. We highly recommended you create an environment where learning, although challenging, can be a rewarding experience for your children and entire family. If necessary, please make adjustments to the RLPs to create a stress-free learning environment.

When your children return to our classrooms for the 2020-2021 school year, our teachers will be prepared to provide the instruction each student will need to catch them up in their essential learning. The RLPs we provide each week will be designed to keep your children working on their academics for the remainder of this school year. The recommended assignments for our TK – 8th grade students will not be evaluated, graded, or calculated into any final second semester grades, but they are designed to engage students in key learning objectives.

The high school RLPs will be focused on assisting students in earning their second semester credits toward the district’s graduation requirements.

 

  • The first step in this plan is to insure students with missing work are given the opportunity to complete that work for the 3rd marking period, which ended on March 13th.
  • The next step will concentrate on providing a way for high school students to demonstrate their understanding of the identified essential learnings in each course in order to earn their credit. High School administrators and teachers are working collaboratively by departments to develop assignments students will be expected to complete in the weeks ahead.
  • Finally, as decisions are made regarding essential learning targets that have to be met, they will be incorporated into the weekly RLPs.
  • Please understand we are in the developmental stage of creating RLPs. They are a work in progress. The remote learning experience will incorporate virtual instructional support from administrators and teachers for your children. We hope to share more details of this instructional support network sometime during the week of April 13th.

To make sure each family is set up for success, we are in the process of determining which homes do not have internet connectivity or a technology device in their home. We are committed to do our very best to provide accommodations for those families who need technology support or other different types of learning opportunities for their children to earn their high school credits.

Thank you for your patience, understanding, and support as we strive to partner with you in educating your children during these difficult times. I trust this communication finds you and your family healthy.

Serving the students, parents, and employees of Jenison Public Schools,

 

Tom TenBrink

Superintendent

March 26th Video Update

March 26th Video Update from Superintendent Tom TenBrink

 

March 23rd Food Distribution Update

Beginning Monday, March 23, 2020, the JPS FOOD Distribution Plan will be moving to Mondays and Wednesdays.  Extra meals to cover Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday will be provided.  *Ease of pick up and social distancing is the reason for the change.

Time: 

11:00am-12:30pm

Locations:

Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison

Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison

Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison

Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison

Drive-up or walk to any site. COME, GRAB, and GO. A parent may pick up meals for children who are at home. 

The school buildings will remain closed. Sites may change weekly as we continue to evaluate the needs of our community.

 

 

March 20th Video Update

Please see the following message from Superintendent Tom TenBrink

 

 

March 15th JPS Response to School Closures

March 15, 2020

Dear Parents/Guardians,

In an effort to keep everyone updated as to what Jenison Public Schools is doing for our families in response to the closing of our schools due to the coronavirus, I am providing you with the following information.

Jenison Public Schools will offer free breakfast and lunch for children in need during the statewide school closure. Packaged breakfast and lunch is being made available through our food service program to any child ages 0-18 (or up to age 26 with special needs) each weekday beginning on Tuesday, March 17, 2020. The details of this food distribution are as follows:

Beginning Tuesday, March 17, 2020, and available weekdays through April 3, 2020.

Time:  11:00am-12:30pm

Locations:

  • Bursley Elementary – 1195 Port Sheldon St, Jenison
  • Sandy Hill Elementary – 1990 Baldwin, Jenison
  • Bauerwood Elementary – 1443 Bauer Rd, Jenison
  • Jenison High School – 2140 Bauer Rd, Jenison

Drive up or walk to any site. COME, GRAB, and GO. A parent may pick up meals for children who are at home. 

The school buildings will remain closed. Sites may change weekly as we continue to evaluate the needs of our community.

For families who are in need of food and can’t get to any of these four locations, please email me at ttenbrin@jpsonline.org and we will get food delivered directly to your homes.

Daycare for families in need is also being provided at the Kids First Building through our Early Childhood Center. If you, or if you know of someone, who is in need of daycare during the weekdays, please contact Lee Westervelt at lwesterv@jpsonline.org. He is currently working with JPS employees and community volunteers who are offering their time to provide daycare for the children in our community.

We are continuing to evaluate the needs of our community and develop plans to meet those needs. It is a blessing to work in a community where our churches are stepping up and volunteering to help in whatever capacity they are needed. Hand2Hand is also mobilizing to insure all families who are in need of food over the weekends are identified and provided what they need.

Thank you to all who have offered to volunteer to help in whatever way is needed. At this point in time, we have the necessary people in place to carry out the plans that are being implemented. In the future, we may be in need of additional volunteers. I will be sure to let you know of our district & community needs at that point in time.

Serving the students, parents, and employees of Jenison Public Schools,

 

Tom TenBrink

Superintendent

March 11th Update

March 11, 2020

Dear Parents,

These are certainly unprecedented times. I can’t ever remember when the world reacted to any other communicable disease such as is currently happening around the globe. We have seen many highly contagious epidemics in our country come and go without as many precautionary measures as are currently being recommended by our government officials.

In speaking with the Ottawa County Health Department officials this afternoon, it is my understanding that very few people have actually been diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state of Michigan. The few cases that have been confirmed are in Wayne County. However, there’s speculation that the coronavirus will spread rapidly through our state in the days and weeks ahead. This evening Governor Whitmer put forth her recommendations which included not holding events of more than 100+ people. As a result of these recommendations and also those provided by the Ottawa County Health Department, we are taking the following steps beginning tomorrow, March 12, 2020, until we are given clearance to resume normal activities.

  1. All district wide afternoon and evening indoor events that would gather 100+ people in the same space are being rescheduled for after Spring Break. These events include, but are not limited to, Elementary School Carnivals, Elementary Concerts, and the Sound of Music performances. Parent Teacher conferences will continue to be held as scheduled.
  2. Elementary students will be eating their lunch in their classrooms. Secondary students will be eating their lunches in the cafeteria, gymnasiums, auditorium, and hallways to ensure they are spread out.
  3. All students will be strongly encouraged to regularly wash their hands, especially prior to eating their snacks and lunch.
  4. All scheduled field trips prior to Spring Break will be cancelled.
  5. If your children are displaying any symptoms of being ill, it is vitally important that you keep them at home. This is especially true if they have a fever of any kind. The standard rule is that a child should be free of a fever without the use of fever reducing medication for 24 hours before returning to school.
  6. Out of state trips, including Baseball and Softball, International DECA, Scotland, Spain, Costa Rica, and East Coast, are still on at this time. We are in communication with the companies that are coordinating many of these trips to determine the continued viability of the trips and possible refunds if necessary.

I know there are many questions that still need to be answered. For example, if colleges and universities are shutting down, why is Jenison Public Schools not following their example? K-12 education is much more complex than that of a college/university. We have the responsibility of not only educating the children we are privileged to serve, but we have the challenge of feeding, clothing, and caring for them throughout the day. Our before and after school care programs are completely full. Children are dropped off at 6:00 a.m. and picked up at 6:00 p.m. If we were to close schools as just a precautionary measure, many children would be home without any adult supervision and missing out on the breakfast and lunch we provide for them. At this time, the Ottawa County Department of Public Health has advised us that we would be focusing on one building at a time versus an entire district if someone was suspected of being contagious with COVID-19. We are being encouraged to continue to keep our doors open until further notice.

With all of this being said, things are changing by the hour. It is very difficult to keep up with everything that is being communicated and recommended. We are doing our very best to filter all of the information pertaining to COVID-19 and make decisions accordingly. I will do my best to provide the most up to date and factual information as quickly as possible.

Thank you in advance for your understanding and cooperation in the steps we are taking as a district to comply with the recommendations that have been communicated this evening by the Governor and officials from the Ottawa County Department of Public Health. Please find attached a document from Dr. Paul Heidel, of the Ottawa County Department of Public Health that addresses the coronavirus disease.

 

Tom TenBrink
Superintendent

 

March - Elementary Updates

 

Dear JPS Elementary Families,

The year 2020 is proving to be unprecedented in terms of the challenges our country is facing. Michigan, in addition to many other states, has mandated closing of all K-12 schools due to COVID-19. The closure is scheduled to begin on Monday, March 16 and last until Monday, April 6th.  Because the mandated closure ends during Jenison’s spring break, additional communication will follow once we have more guidance from the State of Michigan.

Continued Learning
We encourage your child(ren) to continue to engage in learning opportunities during this time.  Some suggestions include:

The following are a few online learning opportunities in which your child(ren) could choose to participate. These are great resources for students to explore that are safe and have been endorsed by the district.

Student Medications
All medications are available to be checked out and picked up in the school office by 4:00 pm today.  If that does not work in your schedule, please contact your building administrator to schedule a time to pick up any necessary medication.

Community and Family Needs
If there are specific needs your family has during this time, please reach out to your building administrator so we can partner with you during these challenges. We are working with our community to provide necessary supports for families and will provide details as they become available.

We realize this closure will be challenging for many families. We ask that, above all else, you keep your family safe and take some time to love, support, and appreciate each other.  Children can learn through many daily activities, so be creative and let this experience provide valuable life lessons. Continued JPS updates will be shared as we navigate these uncharted waters with the rest of the country.

In continued partnership,

District Elementary Principal Administrative Team
Crystal Morse, Bauerwood Elementary
Brent Huck, Bursley Elementary
Lee Westervelt, ECC 
Lloyd Gingerich, El Puente Elementary
Rachael Postle-Brown, Pinewood Elementary
Luke Verbeek, Rosewood Elementary
Jon Mroz, Sandy Hill Elementary

March - Hand 2 Hand Food Bags

Hand 2 Hand families can pick up the food bags at the following locations: 

WHERE:

Fair Haven Ministries

2900 Baldwin Street

DOOR E

DATES: 

Friday, March 20 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm  and  6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Friday, March 27 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm  and  6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Friday, April 3 from 10:00 am - 12:00 pm  and  6:00 pm - 8:00 pm

PROCEDURE

Drive up and let a volunteer know what school your student attends.  The volunteer will get your food and bring it to your car. 

Daily Dashboard

 

Weekly Dashboard

 

Return to Learning Plan

Return to School Roadmap

JPS Student Learning Options 20-21
Learning Plans
 

Back To School Plan Video