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Teachers prepare for a new school year in the shadow of coronavirus

Published: Jul. 20, 2020 at 6:26 PM EDT
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GENESEE COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - (07/20/2020) - Normally, teachers would be preparing for reading, writing and arithmetic, as the start of the school year approaches.

Now, they have to prepare for something they’ve never had to dealt with before. Teachers get ready for a brand new learning environment, dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Carman-Ainsworth biology teacher Frank Burger is well aware of the challenges that lie ahead.

“There will never be anything that replaces brick and mortar learning. But, the only thing is, is that we have to return safely,” he said.

What safely means exactly are new guidelines put in place that may change again and again the closer we get to the first day of classes.

“There’s a lot of unknowns right now. And, you know, one of the things that’s part of the return to learn advisory council piece is there has to be strict sanitation guidelines in these classrooms,” added Burger.

Some of those guidelines include wearing masks, as well as cleaning desks, chairs and other surfaces.

“We are having to sift through all of those requirements, making sure that everything is being met. Making sure that we’re providing a safe learning environment,” Burger said.

A lot will depend on whether or not Mid-Michigan is at Phase 4 or higher of the MI Safe Start plan.

“If case counts continue to rise, I’m afraid that the state is going to get dialed back into Phase 3,” Burger said.

That would present a completely different set of issues, making sure every student not only has a computer, but the means to access the internet without additional cost.

Grand Blanc Community Schools just put out a preliminary plan for what school might look like this fall. However, there are many moving pieces that will require teachers, parents and students to be flexible, based on how many cases of coronavirus there are.

The Phase 4 plans include a hybrid model of both in-class and online learning. Bus routes and class sizes will be limited to 50%. Masks will have to be worn by students and staff in grades 6-12, and K-5 in “common areas.”

If students or staff record a temperature of 100.3, they will have to stay home until they test negative for the virus.

Remote learning through the Bobcat virtual option is possible as well.

What may change all this is if the region goes to a back to phases 1-3, which would mean all learning would be done remotely. So far, what’s been done is preliminary and a starting point.

More definitive plans are expected to be provided by the end of July.

Copyright 2020 WJRT. All rights reserved.

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