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Community updates: Tuesday, Sept. 22

Grand Rapids Public Schools prepares for hybrid in-person learning starting mid-Oct.; City of Grand Rapids adds more absentee ballot drop boxes; and East Hills Council of Neighbors hosts more outdoor Cherry Park Live Concerts.
West Michigan-based Latin rock group Cabildo peforming live at Cherry Park on Sept. 10.

West Michigan-based Latin rock group Cabildo peforming live at Cherry Park on Sept. 10. /East Hills Council of Neighbors

Grand Rapids Public Schools prepares for hybrid in-person learning starting mid-Oct.

Grand Rapids Public Schools (GRPS) is gearing up for a hybrid in-person learning option for its students starting Oct. 19, GRPS Superintendent Leadriane Roby announced.

The hybrid in-person model will be offered alongside a 100% virtual model for students’ parents or guardians to choose, which has been the model in place for all students since the school year began on Aug. 25.

For hybrid learning, students will have at least two days of in-person instruction per week. On days not in school in-person, they’ll continue to work virtually.

“The long-term goal is to eventually transition to 100% in accordance with all health and safety guidelines,” Roby said in a Tuesday letter to parents and guardians.

For students remaining in the 100% virtual model for the rest of the semester, GRPS plans to keep their schedules the same as they’ve been for the first marking period, ending Oct. 16.

After the first semester ends on Dec. 18, parents and guardians will be given another opportunity to opt in for hybrid in-person learning, or 100% in-person if conditions allow.

“There will likely be a team of teachers who will be dedicated to the 100% virtual model, while others will be part of the hybrid in-person model,” Roby continued. “Teachers will not be expected to do both.”

“Our goal is to maintain as much continuity of learning for all students during this transition. It is possible that students may have a new teacher as part of this transition in either the hybrid in-person or virtual model.”

Additional details, complete with timelines, will be shared in the coming days and weeks on GRPS’ website.


City of Grand Rapids adds more absentee ballot drop boxes

The City of Grand Rapids has installed more drop boxes across the city for Grand Rapids voters to drop off their ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

In addition to ballots, the 24/7 drive-up boxes will also accept voter registration forms and absent voter applications.

The drop boxes are now available at seven locations, including four Grand Rapids Public Library (GRPL) branches:

  • GRPL’s Ottawa Hills Branch: Curbside on Giddings Ave. SE.
  • GRPL’s Seymour Branch: Rear of building near the book drop.
  • GRPL’s Van Belkum Branch: Curbside on Plainfield Ave. NE.
  • GRPL’s West Leonard Branch: East parking lot.
  • Parking lot at 427 Market Ave. SW: Southwest corner of Market Ave. SW and Wealthy St. SW.
  • 300 Ottawa Ave. NW: Across from Calder Plaza.
  • City Hall: In the Monroe-level lobby.

All drop boxes will be monitored for security and City Clerk staff will collect ballots from them multiple times a day. The boxes will also have instructions in English and Spanish, a narrow slot for security, and a code for an “I voted” sticker, among other features.

“This is a safe and secure way for voters to cast their absentee ballot,” said City Clerk Joel Hondorp. “The drop boxes offer another option for voters who want to maintain physical distancing during COVID-19.”

The city will begin mailing absentee ballots to Grand Rapidians who applied for them this week. Voters need to submit an absentee ballot application for each election when voting absentee, available to request on the city’s website.


East Hills Council of Neighbors hosts more outdoor Cherry Park Live Concerts

East Hills Council of Neighbors (EHCN) is hosting three more concerts in its free Cherry Park Live Concerts series this fall, with the next happening this Thursday.

Thursday’s concert will feature Grand Rapids-based rock groups Elijah Russ Collective and Kingmaker, outdoors in East Hills’ Cherry Park. All performances take place at this location on Thursdays from 6-9pm.

The concerts are part of Grand Rapids' month-long The Bridge GR event happening through Oct. 3, to celebrate the city's art, culture, and community, and energize its economy amid pandemic-related tolls.

West Michigan-based Latin rock group Cabildo kicked off the series on Sept. 10. Rounding out the series are Earth Radio and Five Moons Away performing on Oct. 8 and August and Lockwood performing Oct. 22.

EHCN’s Cherry Park Live Concerts have taken place over the summer in previous years, and were previously put on hold this year in light of COVID-19, until plans returned in connection with The Bridge GR.

More details about the Cherry Park concerts and other Bridge GR events are available on Experience Grand Rapidswebsite.


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