FCS aims for return to class date on Jan. 11

FLUSHING — Flushing Community Schools is tentatively planning to bring students back for in-person classes starting on Jan. 11.

At the Dec. 15 meeting, the Flushing School Board approved a learning plan that will reinstitute a hybrid format for K-12 students. As with the previous hybrid model that was used from October to late November, students would be in class two days a week and take online courses the rest of the week.

All FCS students have been taking remote classes following an emergency order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), which instructed districts to suspend in-person classes for high schools in late November. FCS also decided to suspend the hybrid format for its K-8 students, due to rising COVID-19 cases and quarantines that led to staffing shortages.

With the state recently lifting its ban on in-person instruction for high schools and COVID-19 numbers slowly trending in the right direction in Genesee County, FCS Superintendent Matt Shanafelt said that a return to hybrid classes now looks feasible and safe for students and staff.

“As staffing levels continue to improve and student cases remain low, we believe we can staff appropriately by Jan. 11,” he said. “We want to do what we can to keep students and staff safe, while instituting a highly efficient learning environment.”

Shanafelt said that the Jan. 11 return date was made with support from the Genesee County Health Department, which advised the district to wait at least 7 to 10 days following the Christmas holiday and New Year’s Day—in case large gatherings cause COVID- 19 numbers to rise again.

In the meantime, the district will be keeping a close eye on latest developments with the pandemic and continuing frequent discussions with the health department.

“We do not want to keep students out of the classroom any longer than necessary, but we also don’t want to yo-yo students back and forth between online and in-person, knowing that consistency is important,” Shanafelt said to the school board. “If it becomes necessary to delay our in-person class return, we will communicate that to you as soon as possible on the week of Jan. 4, if not sooner.”

As stated by Shanafelt, 73 percent of FCS students and their families have opted for the hybrid model when it becomes available, while 27 percent have chosen to remain with 100 percent online learning for the rest of the semester.

To see updates on the district’s learning plans, visit flushingschools.org.