Regardless of the pandemic challenges, Martin Public Schools plans to continue the face-to-face five days per week plan for classroom attendance.
The State of Michigan shut down all high schools until Wednesday, Dec. 9, because of the Covid-19 health crisis, but Martin after that date intends to have all of its schools open for business. Most schools in Allegan County have been operating under guidelines of a hybrid model, with half the students attending two days, Mondays and Thursdays, and the other half on Tuesdays and Fridays, setting aside Wednesdays for interventions, remedial learning and all virtual instruction.
Martin officials opened the academic year with all in-person instruction because it is a small district with small class loads.
Superintendent Brooke Ballee-Stone told the Board of Education Monday night in a special meeting that there have been 14 students testing positive since school started last August. However, she indicated the Coronavirus is hitting the community outside harder, with 77 cases reported in the 49070 zip code.
The superintendent said two junior high staff members and one in elementary have tested positive for the Coronavirus in the past week.
“I have had to do a lot of soul searching about the question of continuing with the face-to-face learning. I feel we should continue as long as the (Allegan County) Health permits it. Our kids need to be here.”
One board member said he has read that health officials have determined the safest place for young people to be these days is in school because there the protocols to mitigate the problem are in place and practiced.
Another board member said, “The hybrid system is failing miserably academically.”
Ballee-Stone acknowledged the 75 teachers and staff members have been experiencing a great deal of stress and burnout during the pandemic.
One board member said, “Perhaps this seems so overwhelming because it is so new.”
Art Shook said, “A lot of it is the uncertainty, not knowing what’s going to happen down the road.”
So it was decided by a vote of the board to resume the face-to-face earning plan as soon as the state mandated high school quarantine is lifted next week. However, all bets are off if the state tightens regulations after Dec. 9 and Martin will have virtual learning plans in place.
Supt. Ballee-Stone said, “I don’t think this should be a political issue. It should be all about what’s best for kids.”