April 30, 2021
Dear Hayes Parents,
There is a great deal of information within this week’s newsletter, so we though we would provide a preface to help expedite your reading. We kick off this week’s newsletter with information regarding social media, which is a common thread of discussion at the middle school level. This week we are also providing a general notification regarding positive Covid cases here at Hayes over the past two weeks. The MSTEP section also has a few new bits of information, including the google form sign up for our virtual students. In addition, the course requests for next year section has all been updated. All other sections and information are holdovers but still very important to keep at the forefront of our thinking and planning.
Social Media and Middle School
Our kids are NOT ready for SnapChat, TikTok, and the rest of what social media has to offer. We may think that they are ready, when they are just taking fun selfies or filming themselves doing a quick dance and posting it. What happens next, however, is what they are not prepared for. They are subject to the criticism of the entire Internet. Anyone, anywhere can make anonymous posts regarding their pictures or thoughts. It could be an anonymous middle school student offering their criticism, but it could also be a fifty seven year old person. Often, our students won’t share what is going on because SnapChat, TikTok, and other sites have become integral to their social connection.
Each day, for students who post, they see things like:
“No one likes you”
And even for students who get positive feedback from their friends, one comment can send them on a tailspin of negative thinking, with friends feeling the need to jump in and defend. For some students, there is no defender and they are left to flounder on their own. If your student seems withdrawn, tired, or sad, they very well could be reacting or internalizing what they are experiencing online.
Unfortunately, the school has very limited authority to get involved in events that happen online outside of school. We have been asked to investigate and intervene in cases where individuals have made derogatory comments about our students online, but our investigations often turn up cold and lead to people who aren’t even students in our schools. Even when the aggressors are students in our schools, it is very difficult to enforce school discipline for events that take place outside of school, outside of school hours.
Many students will say that they are only connected to their friends or classmates. At another school, a staff member created a “decoy” account on a social media site pretending to be a student at my school. Over the course of several weeks, he had made it onto over 500 student “friend” lists without initiating a single contact and could monitor what students were saying to one another. They had friended him because he claimed to be a student at our school.
Therefore, please consider simply not allowing your students to have access to SnapChat, Tiktok or similar apps. They will be angry at first, but lots of parents succumb to pressure because “all the other parents are allowing it.”
Any in-person students that had their picture taken will receive their student ID during their 6th hour class next week. Any students that are Virtual that had their pictures taken, can come up and pick up their picture ID's at the school office. This only applies to Virtual students. Office hours are 7:00am to 3:00pm.
Over the past two weeks of in-person instruction, we have had four positive Covid cases here at Hayes. Contact tracing began immediately once these cases were reported to school staff, and close contacts were notified immediately.
As you know, the State of Michigan is required to continue with standardized testing this year despite the circumstances. Therefore, MSTEP testing will happen over two school days: Tuesday, May 11th and Wednesday, May 12th. We will be running half-days on May 11th and 12th. In-person students will attend from 7:40-10:40; virtual students will be able to test at Hayes from 11:30-2:30. Virtual families will have to provide transportation to and from Hayes for testing.
For our virtual parents interested in having their students test, please fill out the Virtual Student MSTEP Sign Up Form. Please be sure to fill this form out by next week Thursday, May 6th if you are interested in having your virtual student take the MSTEP test.
In-person students do not have to sign up using the form. We will provide our in-person students with more information during lunches this upcoming week regarding MSTEP.
Course Requests for Next Year
Our current 7th graders will be choosing their electives for next year very soon. We intend to provide resources to our students for this process electronically over the next few weeks. There will be no paper copies for this process this year as everything will be electronic and posted to 7th grade Science buzz tiles for our students to access. Students will also enter their elective course requests into PowerSchool with the support of their 7th grade Science teachers. More to come here in subsequent newsletters.
Our current 8th graders will also be provided scheduling information for next year in mid-May by high school counselors, and we are potentially considering providing this information to our 8th graders on the second day of MSTEP testing. Mrs. Miller and Mrs. Taylor, our counselors here at Hayes, will also support this process. 8th graders will also be entering their requests for next year into PowerSchool with the support of school staff here at Hayes.
Home Screening For In-Person Students
We thank our parents for continuing to screen their in-person students each day before sending them to school. Please keep children home if they are experiencing any symptoms. Please keep children home if there is a positive case in your household and/or if you believe your child has been exposed to a positive case elsewhere until the potential for Covid has been formally ruled out. Please communicate with us by calling (517) 925-5680 if your child is staying home for the aforementioned reasons, and please follow the directions in the section below.
Reporting Positive Cases
In-person families should report any positive Covid cases within their household to the district by emailing email@example.com and calling the hotline at (517) 925-5725. In addition, please contact the school with this information by calling (517) 925-5680. If there is a positive case within your household, then please keep your in-person student home until you hear back from Cindy Brummette, district nurse.
That is all that we have for now. Thank you for your continued support. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.
Dave and Eric