School board approves comprehensive plan for 2020-21 school year

SWARTZ CREEK — The Swartz Creek Community Schools Board of Education has approved plans for a variety of scenarios leading up to the start of the 2020-21 school year.

The three-part plan includes blueprints for instruction in the event Genesee County remains in Phase 4 of the Michigan Safe Start Plan, as it is now, as well as details for delivering educational services if the county is shifted into the more restrictive Phases 1-3, or the more lenient Phase 5.

“The bulk of the plan follows what we would do in Phase 4,” Superintendent Ben Mainka explained. “Our plan encompasses how we deliver instruction in light of all the safety protocols.”

As part of the Phase 4 plan, parents were asked to make a difficult choice among three options for their children’s education: fully at school, a blended or hybrid modality, or fully online.

The blended plan involves sending half of the students to school Mondays and Tuesdays, the other half Thursdays and Fridays, and providing online resources for the rest of the week.

In an online scenario, the curriculum will be more “robust” than that which was provided in the spring, Mainka has said.

Whether in a fully face-to-face learning environment or a blended format, students will be required to use hand sanitizer upon entering buildings. Sanitizing stations also will be available in classrooms.

The school board recently approved the purchase of water bottle filling stations to replace the drinking fountains so students can stay hydrated safely.

The complete plan details various hygiene measures and disinfecting protocols, including sanitizing classrooms and buses, plus requirements for athletics and screening procedures for staff and students.

Staff will be required to complete a health check every morning, and parents will be asked to ensure that their children do not go to school if their temperatures are above 100.4. There is also a plan for what to do if a student or staff member is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Students will be required to wear face coverings, and social distancing will be expected to the extent that it is possible. “Progressive measures” will be taken if a student does not comply with the mask requirement.

“If they don’t wear one, we are not going directly to disciplinary measures,” said Mainka. “There will be a conversation. We will explain we cannot allow a student in the building without a mask. If we have a student who refuses or is non-compliant, we would obviously send them home. It may result in corrective discipline or they may be placed in an online format if they cannot comply.”

If Genesee County goes into Phase 5, face masks will be recommended, but not required, he said. Sanitizing protocols would remain the same as in Phase 4.

“In phases 1 to 3, it would represent a more alarming situation where the virus is growing or cases are rising,” Mainka said. “If that happens, our plan would be to provide our students with an online instructional platform. (Students) would have … the ability to check out, on loan, our Chromebooks, as needed. Our teachers will receive training … and they will be able to facilitate the learning in a completely virtual format. That would be in the event that we are put in Phases 1 to 3, meaning we go backward.”