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The Eastern Echo Sunday, June 23, 2024 | Print Archive
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Podcast: Romero and Ray elected to Student Government; EMU tests wastewater for COVID-19; Ypsilanti Community Schools update

Student Government election results are announced, and EMU tests campus wastewater for COVID-19. We also offer a look inside Ypsilanti Community Schools this fall.

Liz Hornyak: On this week’s episode, Eastern Michigan University implements another form of COVID testing on campus, Student Government election results are announced, Ypsilanti Community Schools is working hard for its students and staff in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and EMU’s football team gets a new player for the 2020 season.

EMU has partnered with a Michigan-based company called Aquasight to monitor EMU’s waste water. By monitoring the waste water, Aquasight can detect COVID-19 genetic fragments. Positive results can be tracked to a specific building, which can tell if there is an infected student, and estimate how many students could be infected. This test is useful for asymptomatic students and is cost effective for the university. The sampling equipment was installed on EMU’s campus between Sept. 11 and Sept. 14 Testing will take place bi-weekly for the first five to six weeks and then transition to weekly testing.

Luis Romero and Colton Ray have won the race for student body president and vice president, respectively. Romero and Ray got 247 votes, and their opponents Jack Swartzinski and Allanah Morales received 226 votes.

Romeo and Ray’s campaign focused on housing and food insecurity, mental health, affordable transportation, and administrative transparency. Their goals while in office are:

  • To create a housing scholarship to offset the rising cost of housing both on and off campus

  • To allow students to donate leftover meal swipes to students who are experiencing food insecurity, and create a low income meal plan.

  • To increase funding for CAPS and lower the counselor to student ratio in order to decrease wait times, and diversify the counselors.

  • To provide free parking for shoppers at Swoops Food Pantry, and free busing to local grocery stores, Depot Town, and the Ozone House.

  • And, to hold bi-weekly lobby tables for student government, in order to increase the relationship between the student government and the student body.

Here’s what president elect Luis Romeo had to say about his and Colton’s victory:

“I’m so excited to be able to give to this university just like it has for me, Colton and I have thrown our hearts, our time, and our tears into this campaign.”

Romeo and Ray will take office today.

Ypsilanti Community Schools (YCS) is dedicated to providing its students with an exceptional education, while keeping everyone safe. Here’s how.

YCS has created multiple teaching options for its students.

The first option is face-to-face learning. Elementary students meet Mondays and Thursdays. Middle schoolers meet Mondays and Tuesdays, and high schoolers meet Wednesdays and Thursdays. To accommodate face-to-face learning, only two buildings within the district are open to ensure thorough cleaning.

For this option, there are only sixteen students per classroom. School supplies are placed into backpacks and are placed on students’ assigned seats. Anything that is shared is sanitized. The district has also implemented COVID facilitators to watch the hallways. Each student must be escorted around the building if they need to leave the classroom. There are also designated masks breaks. These breaks occur during recess, and is the only time that students can be without a mask. 

This option was chosen by 300 students. Out of the 300, 163 of these students are high schoolers.

The second teaching option is remote learning. Students are currently learning from home but will eventually phase into face-to-face learning. The exact date for when this phase will take place is not known, but the district plans to make a decision this month, and plans to open more buildings within the district to accommodate these students. This option was chosen by 3,788 students.

The third option that YCS is providing to its students is learning virtually, for the entire year. With this option, students attend synchronous (live) classes and can also meet with their teachers one on one.

Courses like gym, art and music are taught remotely for all students, and school breakfast and lunch are still available for all YCS students. For students who attend face-to-face classes, lunch tables are set six foot apart to comply with social distancing and are sanitized before and after lunch. All other students can pick up their breakfast and lunch, and this month the district plans to add more pick up locations.

YCS has made the decision to not cancel sports; however, each student can only bring two pre-approved guests to sports activities. 

To create community among its students, YCS has partnered with EMU and its Bright Futures Program. YCS is also creating its own student project-based program. The goal of this program is to teach students about their personal voice and heritage. At the end of the year, YCS plans to create the “YCS Freedom Dreamers” website to showcase the work of the student project-based program.

YCS was able to accomplish this through the federal CARES Act. YCS received $328,108 in grants because 72% of YCS students are economically disadvantaged. YCS used this money to fund:

  • Personal Protective Equipment

  • Professional Development

  • Salaries for COVID monitors

  • Contracted Professional Cleaning

  • 360 machines, which help disinfect classrooms 

  • Online curriculum

  • Foodservice

  • And internet for families

YCS superintendent Alena Zachery-Ross had this to say about her district’s choices.

“We just want students safe, we just want the teachers and all of our support staff to be safe, so we are going to do whatever it takes.”

In sport news, EMU’s football team is getting a new player for the 2020 season.

Greg Kelley is joining the Eagle family. Kelley was convicted of child sexual assault in 2014, and spent six years in prison. His case was reopened in 2016, and due to new evidence and a new suspect, Kelley was exonerated in 2019. Kelley’s case has been adapted into a five-part documentary series on Showtime called Outcry. The athletic star plans to return to the field at Rynearson stadium as a defensive back. During his career at Texas High School, Kelley averaged 4.3 tackles per game, four sacks, and three caused fumbles. Kelley had this to say about his new beginning:

“My goal is to ball out and work hard, develop my skills, and to cultivate the skills that I may need the cobwebs dusted off of. I intend to do that and get a quality education.”

Reporting: Ahmad Zalt, Kennedy Robinson, Gradie Thompson, Luke Gremban

Script: Jasmine Boyd

Host: Liz Hornyak

Production: Lauren Smith