COVID Survivor-May 6, 2020 Town Hall Recap

Article | 10.07.2020

By Carl Baxmeyer, AICP, Manager of Planning

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By George Kacan, Education Sector Leader, Wightman 
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The first Wednesday With Wightman featured a discussion with Geoff Smith, former Board Member and current Safety Director for the City of Sturgis. Dr. Thomas Langdon moderated the town hall meeting; he is a part-time Superintendent for the Walkerville Schools and an educational consultant for Wightman, the discussion focused on both what is being done now during the COVID-19 pandemic and Geoff’s personal experience with the infection.

George Kacan, Regional Director of Architecture for Wightman’s Royal Oak office, facilitated the session. He presented the three phases of the COVID-19 epidemic, as introduced by Heidi Hayes Jacobs, noted author and international education leader. Phase I, Triage, where everyone is dealing with reacting to unprecedented challenges, the current phase. That will give way to Phase II, Transition, with its questions as society begins to reopen and return to an undefined normal. The final step is Phase III, Post-Pandemic as we face a “new normal.” Kacan explained that these three phases are the framework for Wednesdays with Wightman to provide information and a forum for superintendents and others to share ideas, experiences, and best practices as together we move forward.

One of the first people in Michigan to test positive, Geoff shared his personal experience. While he experienced moderate symptoms for several days, as did members of his immediate family, Geoff credits isolation for not spreading the virus further. Smith is the Safety Director for the City of Sturgis.  He is working on the front-line with others, continuously learning new information about COVID-19 and helping inform his Team regarding next steps. However, he pointed out the research is on-going and that there is limited data upon which to make decisions.

Smith, with his unique perspective as a former board member and safety director, provided additional thoughts on the current crisis:

  • During COVID-19 planning and developing contingency plans for continuously changing circumstances is vital.
  • School districts need to reassure parents that all actions taken by the school district are first and foremost to keep children and families safe.
  • Districts will have to be flexible in working within a budget with the full impact during the COVID-19 pandemic still being unknown.
  • Equitable access to online learning opportunities for students is a challenge for all districts. Students having access to technology, both hardware and software will need to be addressed in the coming months as this will have a significant impact on schools reopening.

The discussion ended with Kacan providing a wrap-up of the key points made during the town hall meeting. He stated that the Wednesdays With Wightman series would occur every two weeks, with the next session being on May 20th, 2020. 

The focus of the next Wednesdays With Wightman will be on “Equitable Access to Online Learning.”

View the May 6 Wednesdays with Wightman Town Hall below: