Here’s What to Expect from the East Lansing Public Schools’ Closure

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Friday, March 13, 2020, 3:55 pm
Alice Dreger

Above: Superintendent Dori Leyko at the January 27, 2020, school board meeting (photo by Raymond Holt)

East Lansing Public Schools Superintendent Dori Leyko – who appears based on frequency of communications to have gotten little sleep in the last three days – is distributing information for district families about what to expect from the Governor-mandated school closure for the next few weeks.

As we reported just after midnight, Governor Gretchen Whitmer is requiring all K-12 schools in the state to close starting Monday and running through April 5. Here is what Leyko is letting employees and families know today:

Employees can expect to keep getting paid, but there will be no instruction.

Writes Leyko, “We will continue paying our employees during this closure – there is no expectation of work, except in a few situations where individuals have essential responsibilities that cannot go uncovered for weeks.”

Food distribution will continue.

Information on emergency food distribution is here.

There will be no homework.

The District is “sending home book bags with K-5 students today and intend[s] to distribute books to families with our meal distribution through the closure. As much as we care about academic growth, our main focus is meeting students’ basic needs at this time and providing equitable opportunities for all students.”

School buildings will be closed and locked up, even to teachers.

Students were asked to clear out at the end of the school day today, except for those in Before- and After-Care programs. Teachers and staff can still get into the buildings until Sunday, March 15, at 9 p.m., but after that, their keycards will stop working.

There is going to be deep cleaning while the state-mandated closure goes on.

The goal is to wipe out pathogens while the buildings are almost entirely emptied of humans. The hope behind all these emergency declarations is that this prolonged “social distancing” period will mean the virus essentially dies out – or at least dies way down. (Learn from an ELi special report what social-distancing looks like.)

It’s not yet clear whether Spring Break will happen as previously scheduled.

The District had been scheduled to take Spring Break from April 3-10. But now there are suggestions that schools that have had Spring Break scheduled for after the closure should come back into session on April 6 to make up for time lost. Says Leyko, “We are waiting for guidance and clarification on this. Unless directed otherwise, we plan to maintain our scheduled spring break and return [on] Monday, April 13.”

Social media will be used for crowdsourcing.

There’s a Facebook page called EL Neighbors and Communities Help Each Other aimed at “help[ing] us gather volunteers who are willing to help.” Not on Facebook? Leyko invites you to email her directly at if you want to offer help to the school district during this time.

See today’s full handout from the administration here.

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This report was updated on March 14 to provide a link to our later report on emergency food distribution.
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