Schools adjust to three-week closures

HOUGHTON COUNTY — Hancock Schools Superintendent Steve Patchin and Houghton High School Principal Cole Klein announced plans for their respective schools, in responses to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcements involving schools and the COVID-19 pandemic spikes.

“Today Gov. Whitmer stated the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will be moving our high schools to remote learning beginning Wednesday, Nov. 18,” Patchin said in a Sunday email. “Barkell Elementary and Hancock Middle School will continue to operate face-to-face instruction per MDHHS guidance, following our established 2020-21 school calendar.”

Schools are to remain closed to face-to-face instruction for the next three weeks.

All students will be attending school for the next two days, he said. High school teachers will be preparing students to move to remote learning on Wednesday. As of now, he added, all athletics will be suspended for the next three weeks.

“We will keep you informed if that changes in the coming weeks,” he wrote. “All bus routes will continue.

Patchin said that the school staff will continue to follow our established protocols in the schools to successfully mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

“Thanks to our parents, students, education team, and facilities team to make our building a safe space to educate our students,” he stated.

In a separate email, Patchin said that as schools move from face-to-face instruction to blended learning, the weekly food service program will be available at no cost to students.

“Like last spring and summer,” he said, “any families with students up to the age of 18 will be able to get seven days of breakfasts and lunches.

Anyone interested in participating in food program, please email Shelby Turnquist at: sturnquist@hancock.k12.mi.us. She will need each of child’s first and last name along with a telephone number.

The food pick-ups will be on Tuesday, Nov.17, and Tuesday, Nov. 24, at Barkell Elementary School from 4 to 5:15 p.m.

In the Portage Township Schools, Klein said that schools will move to remote/virtual learning for three weeks beginning Wednesday. Face-to-face instruction will resume on Wednesday, Dec. 9. Thanksgiving Break will stay the same with no school for students on Wednesday, Nov. 25, Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27.

“During this closure, teachers will continue to instruct, through Google Meets, using the normal daily schedule,” Klein stated. “All students need to go to their Google Classroom during each class period of the day. The teachers will have live lessons using Google Meet, and will be posting assignments and videos in Google Classroom. It is critical for our students to establish and follow a daily schedule at home in order for them to stay committed and focused on their academics during this remote period.”

Students should clean out their lockers tomorrow (Tuesday), throwing away any perishables, and bringing home all school materials that will be needed for the next three weeks.

If technology is an issue, please contact the school office.

“As we were able to in the previous closures,” he said, “we can help to support families with technology needs. While this is frustrating, as a district, we are grateful that our elementary and middle school students are able to maintain face-to-face instruction. Being remote has many challenges, but our high school students are in a better position to succeed with it. Thank you for the support at home. Stay safe and healthy.”


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