Superintendent announces return to fall classes

HANCOCK — As the Copper Country prepared for a Fourth of July weekend with little in the way of community celebrations or fireworks, Superintendent Steve Patchin wanted to help put Hancock School District parents and student in a better mood with some good news.

“We will be returning to school in the Fall!” he exclaimed. “This week Gov. Whitmer’s COVID-19 Task Force on Education Return to School Advisory Council released their guidelines for our opening in the Fall.”

Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap on June 30, a comprehensive document to help districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall. The Roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan. The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-142, which provides a structure to support all schools in Michigan as they plan for a return of PreK-12 education in the fall.

“How we instruct students is based on the Michigan Safe Start Phase we are in,” Patchin said. Below is a brief summary of instruction in each phase:

• Phase 1 – 3: Schools do not open for in-person instruction and instruction is provided remotely

• Phase 4: Schools open for in-person instruction with stringent required safety protocols

• Phase 5: Schools open for in-person instruction with moderate required safety protocols

• Phase 6: Schools open for in-person instruction with minimal required safety protocols

“The U.P is currently in Phase 5,” Patchin said. “If we continue to be in Phase 5 Hancock Public Schools, will be starting the school year with in-person instruction Monday-thru-Friday. Students will be attending each day for the full day.”

Whitmer’s Executive Order 2020-142 requires school districts to adopt a COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plan laying out how they will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan. The MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap offers guidelines as to the types of safety protocols that will be required or recommended at each phase. In recognition that these protocols will cost money, the Governor also announced that she was allocating $256 million to support the districts in implementing their local plans as part of the bipartisan budget agreement the Senate Majority Leader, the Speaker of the House, and the governor announced on June 29.

The safety protocols detailed in the MI Safe Schools Roadmap includes guidance on the use of PPE, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics, and more. The Roadmap also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students’ and educators’ metal health, and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue.

“We will be assembling a reopening team,” said Patchin, “including a cross section of support staff, teachers, health department representatives, community members, and district leadership.”

The team, he said, will analyze recommendations from state and health department officials, and craft the district’s individualized district operational plan.

On June 17, 2020, Whitmer announced that Michigan schools may resume in-person learning in phase 4 of the MI Safe Start plan, with strict safety measures in place.

As stated above, the Upper Peninsula is in Phase 5. TheMi Safe Start Phase 5 covers:

• Virus status

• How to keep school communities safe

• School operating status

• Essential actions and safety protocols

“It will include three models of instruction, so we can pivot to each if the Phase we are in changes,” said Patchin. “We are excited to get our students back in our buildings! Our plan will be one that optimizes our resources, providing students a safe and engaging learning environment to grow in. Our team expects this to be a very exciting year of learning for all!”


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