Good Evening Mason Bulldogs,
On June 30, the State of Michigan released guidelines for schools to allow students to resume in-person instruction this fall. Mason Public Schools along with the Reimagining and Reopening of School Committee have spent hundreds of hours over the past three weeks to define how Mason Public Schools would educate our students across what could be multiple different models. Just two weeks ago, we announced the first draft of what school could look like this fall. It included an in-person learning option and an online learning option, the Bulldog Academy. This is what we considered to be the “ideal” plan with a solution for all students. As we have continued to work on the different models, it has become increasingly clear that a “normal” in-person model might be impossible to deliver. Here are some of the hurdles we have encountered:
- Social Distancing – How do we keep all students socially distanced from each other? Many classrooms are not large enough to provide a safe distance between students. How do students pass from one class to another in crowded hallways? How do we ensure younger students are able to maintain social distance?
- Transportation – If a majority of students chose to return to in-person instruction, how do we provide safe busing solutions when buses often carry 50 or 60 students in a very small area?
- Funding – While the State has mandated several safety measures to reopen schools, they have not yet funded the costs associated with all of the necessary measures. In fact, preliminary discussions from the State indicate that school funding could be significantly cut. And the real challenge is that we most likely won’t know what 2020-21 funding levels the State will provide until AFTER school is scheduled to resume.
- Cleaning – How do we ensure that all the required cleaning is done between classes? Who does the cleaning?
- Worker Safety – How do we provide a safe environment for teachers, administrators, custodians and all the others that are essential to keeping our schools open. We have been presented with surveys that suggest a majority of our teachers are nervous about returning to a classroom environment, and finding substitute teachers would be another big challenge.
- COVID Protocols – What happens if a student or teacher tests positive for COVID? Would we have to close schools? Would parents chose to remove their children from a classroom environment? It would cause an extremely disruptive environment for our students.
These are just a few of the challenges that we have faced over the last few weeks. You may have seen the news that Lansing Public Schools and Waverly Community Schools have decided that all learning will be done remotely to start the fall term. We expect that other districts could follow suit over the next few weeks. While we continue to look for solutions that work for everyone, there is real possibility that in-person learning will not be achievable until a future date.
To help parents and staff prepare for the first day of school on August 26, the Board of Education wants to have a discussion and make a final decision soon. As result they will hold a special meeting on July 27 to discuss the back to school plan and determine next steps. We ask that staff keep working on developing online curriculum for your classes, but know that nothing has officially been decided and hope to have a clearer plan with more details to share with you soon.
We know that everyone is anxious to get back to school. Thank you for your input and your support during these unprecedented and challenging times.
Kurt Creamer, Board President
Ronald Drzewicki, Superintendent