Grand Blanc schools phasing in classroom learning beginning Monday

For now, only the young 5s and kindergarteners are returning to school Monday on a hybrid-model plan
Desks in an elementary school classroom are spaced 6-feet apart, ready for students to return.
Desks in an elementary school classroom are spaced 6-feet apart, ready for students to return.(Eric Fletcher/ WJRT)
Published: Oct. 5, 2020 at 11:26 AM EDT
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GRAND BLANC, Mich. (WJRT) - (10/2/2020) - The largest school district in Genesee County has some students returning to the classroom Monday.

Grand Blanc’s School Board voted on the plan a few weeks ago. Superintendent Clarence Garner said his elementary teachers and principals put it together.

The latest numbers show Grand Blanc is home to more than 11% of Genesee County’s coronavirus cases.

Only the young 5s and kindergarteners are returning to school Monday. Face-to-face learning will happen just two days a week for now, with students learning online the other three days.

Who will be in the classroom and which days they’ll be there is based on of the student’s last name.

“The remote is working. We know that. But as we just talked about, we also know it’s important to get those kids back, so that they can interact with each other, interact with their teachers. That’s critical,” Garner said.

He’s heard from both sides and said that’s why this return to school buildings will be slow and strategic. Garner said they chose to start with the younger students because the governor requested they do so.

Plus, he said they speak weekly with the Genesee County Health Department, which is guiding their decisions.

“We’re doing what we believe is right for our community and we’re doing it as safely as possible. So, but are you nervous? Sure you are,” Garner said.

Only half of each grade is coming back each day so they can maintain the 6 feet social distance. The district has strict cleaning measures in place and their two nurses are in charge of overseeing contact tracing.

Garner said they also provided guidance for families on how they can help.

“We’re asking our parents, caregivers to do the temperature checks before they come to school, take a look at symptoms,” he said.

Not every family is comfortable with having their young kids return face-to-face.

Garner said they still have the option of entirely remote learning with about 25% of their students are enrolled in the Bobcat Virtual plan.

“We’re doing things that we’ve never done,” he said. “But our administrators, our teachers -- I can only speak for Grand Blanc -- incredible. All the things that they are doing with our families here. I feel very fortunate that I get to work with these people.”

If everything goes smoothly, first and second graders will be returning on the same hybrid model on Oct. 12. Garner said they will re-evaluate at the end of the month to see what other students they can begin to move into the buildings.

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