FCS to start school year with full in-person schedule

FLUSHING — Flushing Community Schools will be starting the 2021/2022 school year with a fully in-person schedule, but there will still be a mandate for students in K-6th grade to wear masks in class.

In a districtwide message to parents, FCS Superintendent Matt Shanafelt said that the district is looking forward to providing a regular, five-day-a-week school experience for students once classes start on Aug. 30. As part of that plan, the district intended to let parents decide if their kids should wear masks inside school buildings.

However, per a mandate issued by the Genesee County Heath Department on Aug. 12, all K-6th grade students in the county will be required to wear masks inside classrooms and all school buildings. According to the health department, the mandate will remain in place until two months after a COVID-19 vaccine is available for children ages 5 to 11.

“As has been the case for the last 16 months, we will continue to work closely with our local health department, adjusting our plan as necessary based on (virus) spread in our community or school buildings, making sure to follow any necessary mandates from the MDHHS and the GCHD,” Shanafelt said to parents prior to the issuance of the mask mandate.

No county-wide mask mandate has been issued for students in grades 7-12. However, all students and staff will be required to wear masks while riding school busses and public transportation, per federal mandate.

Shanafelt said that the district will also continue to strongly recommend mask wearing for all students and will reevaluate its current policy on masks if another new mandate is issued by the MDHHS and GCHD.

As of now, the district is still deciding on whether staff will be required to wear masks inside school buildings.

The district’s additional COVID-19 mitigation strategies will include social distancing to the greatest extent possible, handwashing and respiratory etiquette, enhanced cleaning and disinfecting in classrooms and increased ventilation in school buildings. Students showing symptoms of COVID-19 will also be expected to stay home, and contact tracing and quarantine practices will continue—as mandated by the GCHD.

At the Aug. 10 school board meeting, Shanafelt said that a 100 percent online option will be available for grades K-12. Thus far, he said that only 70 students and their families have opted for 100 percent virtual learning. At least 30 of those students are in grades 7-12.

Due to the low numbers of online schooling requests, K-6th grade students will attend classes with a county cohort of students taught by certified teachers provided by the Genesee Intermediate School District. The K-6th grade model will include learning during live meets with a virtual teacher, and students can expect to attend virtual meetings daily with an additional opportunity for small group instruction.

Under the current plan, students in 7th-12th grades will be enrolled in self-paced virtual classes, supported by an FCS mentor teacher.

To see updates on the district’s back-to-school plan, visit flushingschools.org.