October 26, 2020

Dear Stakeholders of Burr Oak Community Schools:

In an effort to squelch rumors and misconceptions, this communication is an attempt to provide answers to frequently asked questions in response to “pandemic learning” plans and policies in regard to sports and academics.

As you read through the following statements, keep in mind we (teachers, administrators, and
support staff including coaches) do everything possible to help students succeed, but we
cannot do the work for them. These are life lessons that are sometimes difficult to learn.

Athletic Eligibility

Misconception #1: Schools waived all eligibility criteria for the year because of the pandemic.

The reality:
1. School policies including athletic policies are determined by school boards in the State of Michigan. ALL schools have eligibility standards and these have not changed because of the pandemic. Student athletes at Burr Oak Community Schools must meet the eligibility criteria in the handbook to be eligible to play.

Per MHSAA Rules: While ineligible athletes may not participate in an interscholastic scrimmage or contest, each individual school determines its own policy regarding practices. MHSAA
rules do not prohibit a student from practicing with a team while ineligible. However, MHSAA medical accident insurance only covers eligible athletes.

Misconception #2: School administrators and board members can address athletic issues based on personal opinion.

The reality:
2. School administrators follow policies that were reviewed and adopted by the local board of education. The majority of general school policies currently in place are provided to Burr Oak Schools by Thrun Law Firm and were adopted in 2020. The athletic handbook is reviewed internally by the school board and is currently under review.

Misconception #3: Student eligibility is the teachers’ responsibility.

The reality:
1. It is the teachers’ responsibility to report student grades to the athletic director.
2. It is the student athletes’ responsibility to keep their grade up by getting assignments in as scheduled, to communicate with their teachers and ask for help when needed, and study.

Per Burr Oak’s athletic handbook: A student who elects to participate in athletics is voluntarily making a choice of self-discipline and self-denial. There is no place in the high school athletic program for students who will not discipline their minds and bodies for rigorous competition.


Misconception #4: Students are not getting the same amount of instructional time as they did before the pandemic. They have to have 6-hours of classes to learn.

The reality:
1. Students are getting the same amount of time in their core classes (English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies) that they received prior to the pandemic plan.

a. Now: In addition to on campus time, students can watch the instructional videos made by the teachers as many times as they want for better understanding. (Tier 2 Intervention)

i. Afternoon time off campus: For those on site this would be similar to homework in a regular year where students might have to go home and read something or study if they did not get it done while on campus.

ii. In years past, an hour in school did not equal direct instruction every minute of every hour every day. There were and are many variables that went into a class hour.

1. Learning activities during time on campus vary from student to student and class to class. We are not a one-size-fits-all school. We differentiate learning activities based on individual student needs.

b. Core instruction has always been four hours. The remaining 2.5 hours in the past was spent on the following:

i. Passing time between classes
ii. Lunch
iii. Recess
iv. Specials

Misconception #5: Teachers aren’t teaching like they did before the pandemic. They don’t put things on the board so students are not getting taught.

The reality:
1. The majority of teachers do not teach using their whiteboards/chalkboards anymore. One or two might have, but the majority have used Chromebooks and Google Classroom for the past 5 years, especially in grades 5-12. Burr Oak has been what is called a “blended learning” district for quite some time. That is also what we are now with a focus on training students to be online in case we are forced to go online. We need to do better than we did in the spring.

Misconception #6: Teachers go home at noon and don’t do any work all afternoon.

The reality:
1. Teachers are working harder and putting in more hours than they ever have.

a. Teaching contracts are for approximately 7.5 hours per day. All of our teachers work well over that amount; the job would not get done if they didn’t. With that being said, they also have families and duties outside of school and it’s important to respect that. Many Burr Oak teachers worked over the summer preparing lessons and helping restructure due to COVID-19; they  don’t usually receive compensation for that work, which is unfortunate, the reality of educators.

b. Many students have scheduled learning time in the afternoons. If your student is struggling, please reach out to the teachers.

c. Not only are teachers teaching students in person, they are also developing online curriculum and putting in evening time to support students and families. This is not an easy adjustment for some and they have had to learn many new systems to support learning.

Mrs. Kristina Owens