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Grand Blanc Community Schools votes to start school remotely on Sept. 8

Published: Aug. 12, 2020 at 11:40 PM EDT
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GRAND BLANC, Mich. (WJRT) - (08/12/2020) - School districts across the state are facing a difficult decision: begin the year face-to-face or online?

Districts are starting to release their plans, and Wednesday night, the Grand Blanc Community Schools Board of Education approved its return to school plan unanimously.

The board approved a hybrid model with both face-to-face learning and remote learning on July 29. Then, the Genesee County Health Department sent a new toolkit to districts in the county, so they called a special board meeting to review their return to school plan.

The new plan includes two big changes: pushing the start date back from Aug. 31 to Sept. 8 and beginning fully online.

“Trying to implement the guidelines, at least as we interpreted those guidelines, we felt it was going to be very disruptive for our kids. We thought we’d be in a day, maybe then out five to 10 days, and we felt we were lacking that consistency, so I think the board tonight as they looked at that, and our parents as well, we want a consistent model for our students, and we just didn’t feel like we could provide that based on those recommendations,” Superintendent Clarence Garner said.

For elementary school, if a student tests positive, the entire class will have to quarantine for 14 days. The classroom itself will be shut down for five days. For middle and high school, with changing classes, that means six sets of students and teachers quarantining.

Members of the school board acknowledged the guidelines from Genesee County seem stricter than ones in other counties that require only those within 6 feet of a student who tests positive to quarantine.

There were about a dozen community members who attended the meeting in person, and more than 750 listening on Zoom.

The district says this decision splits the community almost in half, but those in favor of face-to-face learning now say the choice should be theirs.

”Every family in this district should have the choice to send their kids to school. The very fabric our society, the greatness of our country, and the defining character of an American, has always been and will always be built around individual choice and freedom,” Grand Blanc resident Jason Ballantyne said.

Glen Ferrell says he has five kids who currently attend Grand Blanc Community Schools.

“We do need to try. We need to try because we have to have some sort of normal,” he said. “Safe means never because COVID is not going to go away.”

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