Students navigating unsure pandemic waters of back to school have resources available

"As a former Detroit Public Schools teacher and someone who has been directly impacted by COVID-19, this is very very personal to me," said State Rep. Sherry Gay-Dagnogo.

Dagnogo lost her sister to COVID-19 and Friday she gathered together politicians, parents, educators, students for a Zoom meeting to talk about options and opportunities in this new school year - and the challenges everyone is facing because of the pandemic.

2020 Cass Tech graduate Brooke Solomon is headed to Howard University virtually for now. It's not the experience she had imagined but it's her new reality.

"I'm here for another six months,  still under quarantine, still trying to figure out how I'm going to do online school, how I'm going to be a college student when it doesn't even feel like I've graduated high school yet," she said.

"Every college is doing their own thing and they're all completely different - they all have different plans - just like every k-12 school district is doing their own thing," said Ashley Johnson.

Johnson heads the Detroit College Access Network - she says they are offering 1-on-1 free advising for recent graduates who still don't what they're doing this fall - as director of the Detroit Promise Scholarship, she says free community college and four-year college opportunities are still available.

"If you're a student or you know a student from the class of 2020 who is still trying to figure out what they're going to do in the fall - the promise is still available for them, free scholarships, just for living in Detroit," she said.

Johnson says decisions about school and safety have to involve the entire family and consider who might be medically fragile - and whether it's safer to be at home or on campus.

"As much as we want you to have sort of the traditional college experience - we also want you to be safe," Johnson said.

Many K-12 students will be learning from home, also. It's a new experience for everyone which is why Michigan Virtual, with 20 years of experience, is offering resources through a  learning continuity package - everything from professional development for educators - to social programs for kids and their parents.

"It gives teachers, students, and parents, an opportunity to have access to many of our resources at completely no cost," said Angela Shields, Michigan Virtual.

Experts say these are the kinds of partnerships that everyone will need to navigate this new normal.


Michigan Virtual:
Detroit College Access Network:
Detroit Promise: