DAVISON — When school resumes Aug. 17, Davison students are going to find things done a little different than before classes ended abruptly in March.
The district has announced its plan for resuming in-person classes this fall will be announced later in July following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s release of the MI Safe Schools Return to Schools Roadmap last week.
The Roadmap, a 63-page document with comprehensive guidance to help local school districts create plans for in-person learning.
Additionally, Whitmer announced the signing of Executive Order 2020-142, which provides guidance on developing “Preparedness Plans.”
Davison Superintendent Kevin Brown said in a letter last week to Davison parents, the Return to School Roadmap offers guidelines as to the types of safety protocols that will be required or recommended at each phase of the state’s reopening plan and includes guidance on the use of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics and more.
The Roadmap, he said, also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students’ and educators’ mental health and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue.
“I know you have many questions – as do we – as to what the beginning of the 2020-21 school will look like for our students and families this August,” said Brown in the letter. “There are many more questions than answers right now but, rest assured, we are reviewing the Roadmap and beginning to work on having several plans in place based on the state’s reopening phases.”
Brown said the region continues to be in phase 4 of the state’s reopening plan and he admits returning to face-to-face instruction while in phase 4 of the “safe start” plan will be challenging. “We are hopeful that by the time we are ready to return to school on Aug. 17 we will be in phase 5 of the plan,” he said, in the letter.
Brown mentioned some of the guidelines in Phase 4 he said might be difficult for both students and staff:
• Facial coverings must always be worn by staff except for meals.
• Facial coverings must be worn by PK-12 students, staff and bus drivers during school transportation.
• Facial coverings must always be worn in hallways and common areas by PK-12 students in the building except for during meals.
• Facial Coverings must be worn in classrooms by all staff and students grade 6-12 only.
In Phase 5, said Brown, these steps will be strongly recommended, but there will ultimately be some flexibility and local communities will need to document their decision in their plan.
The plan also spells out protocols for athletics in different phases of the MI Safe Start Plan.
In Phase 4:
• Students, teachers and staff must use proper hand hygiene techniques before and after every practice, event, or other gathering.
• Every participant should confirm that they are healthy and without any symptoms prior to any event.
• All equipment must be disinfected before and after use.
• Spectators are allowed provided that facial coverings are used by observers and six feet of social distancing can be maintained at all times.
Brown said the Michigan High School Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations are continuing to develop guidance for how sports can be played safely.
Whitmer is also calling on MHSAA to consider postponing fall sports where social distancing is impossible to the spring – and running some of the more individualized sports like track and field, tennis and soccer in the fall.
“The bottom line is that no matter what phase we are in, we are committed to providing ALL DCS students with the educational opportunities they deserve,” said Brown. “Our commitment to the safety and well-being (both emotionally and physically) of our students and staff remains unchanged; it is our top priority, and we will do everything we can to make sure that the needs of all our students are met as we move forward with our return to school planning.”
Brown said parents and students will receive more information as it becomes available through email. — G.G.