Back to School Planning Update: Governor Whitmer Announcement 7/1/2020

Yesterday Governor Whitmer released state guidelines to help Michigan schools create reopening plans for the fall. The governor’s executive order requires all districts to plan for a variety of scenarios depending on the status of the pandemic when school begins. The “phase” of the pandemic will determine which plan we are able to move ahead with in the fall.

The state guidelines include requirements and recommendations for safety equipment, social distancing, cleaning procedures and much more. BCPS leaders have been reviewing all of these guidelines in great detail and will continue to do so over the next several weeks as we formulate and gain parent input on our district’s back to school plan. In the meantime however, we wanted to provide an update to our community based on what we already know about the guidance that the state has issued.

The governor’s guidelines detail three possible scenarios for fall:

  • Phase 3: All Remote Schooling
    If COVID-19 spread is increasing and there are substantial concerns for health systems becoming overwhelmed, Michigan will go back to “Phase 3,” and in-person schooling will not be possible. In that case, we will be providing remote learning for all students.
  • Phase 4: In-Person Schooling with Strict Safety Protocols
    Michigan is currently in “Phase 4.” Phase 4 will be declared if the number of new cases has been falling for a time but remains high and the overall number of infections demands continued social distancing. In this case, students will be able to attend school in person with facial coverings required for all staff and students in hallways, common areas and on transportation. Facial coverings will be required within classrooms for staff and students grades 6-12 and optional within classrooms in grades PK-5. In this case social distancing is also strongly recommended where possible.
  • Phase 5: In-Person School with Less Strict Safety Protocols
    If spread of the disease continues to fall and risk of new infection becomes lower, Michigan will move on to “Phase 5”, and school will be able to resume with precautionary safety and hygiene protocols, but masks and social distancing will not be required.

We know there are many more questions about what school and activities will look like under any one of these scenarios and we have been working hard on detailed plans for all three possibilities. Now that the state guidelines have been released, we will use them to guide these plans to completion within the coming weeks.

BCPS is Planning Ahead

School leaders are currently planning for the details of a remote schooling model for all students in case it is required. Even if the pandemic stage does not require all students to attend remotely, a BCPS virtual option will still be available to families who prefer it due to health or personal considerations.

It is our hope that by continuing to take the recommended precautions, we can help COVID-19 cases decline in our region so that all students can attend school in person without the requirement to wear masks or remain socially distant. We know that may not be possible however, and are working hard on plans to ensure we can provide an enriching and inspiring educational experience online and in a setting where masks and distancing measures may be necessary.

We are working together with the Calhoun County Health Department to make sure that whenever we return to the buildings, our students can continue learning while staying safe and healthy. When students and staff members return, we will have in place robust cleaning and safety protocols, including things like adding hand sanitizer stations, clarifying expectations around handwashing and wearing masks, and increasing building maintenance checks.

More Details Coming Soon

We are in the process of putting together a more detailed plan for next school year, in collaboration with teachers, staff and administrators across the district and will be seeking input from families over the next few weeks. Please keep your eye out for a family survey as well as virtual town hall meetings. We hope to have the plan available for release in mid-July.

Thank you for your patience, and for working with us to support one another. We all have a role to play in helping our community stay healthy. Our actions now will help determine the course of the pandemic in our community, and could make the difference in our ability to return to school. Please stay home and stay safe!