Battle Creek schools to require masks for upcoming year

Calhoun County

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Calhoun County’s largest school district has decided to follow the local health department’s recommendation and will require masks this upcoming school year.

Masks will be required in Battle Creek Public Schools buildings.

The COVID-19 reopening plan was laid out by Superintendent Kimberly Carter as a Board of Education workshop Monday night.

Carter started her presentation by telling the board she believes students have the best chance for success in a face-to-face environment.

“Our goal is to provide a safe, health learning environment for students, minimize missed classroom time due to quarantine requirements and maximize time spent with teachers and friends,” Carter said.

The plan presented to the board was shaped by guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy of Pediatrics, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and Calhoun County Public Health Department.

There was also a survey sent out to BCPS parents. Survey data showed 541 respondents were comfortable returning with CDC recommended precautions in place, while 325 were not. The survey was conducted in English, Spanish and Burmese.

All students and staff members will be required to wear face masks while in BCPS buildings, regardless of vaccination status.

“We, as a board, had decided earlier in the school year that we would follow the recommendations of the Calhoun County Public Health Department and as such, we’re putting forward a mandatory mask mandate,” Carter said.

In addition to masking, all grade levels will attend schools face-to-face. There will be no hybrid schedules for grades 6-12 this year. For parents that aren’t comfortable sending kids back to school, there is a K-12 virtual option through the BCPS Virtual Academy.

The cleaning protocols put in place last school year will continue during the 2021-2022 school year. The district will also be providing students with school supplies to “limit sharing of personal items and supplies.”

Students in pre-K through fifth grade will continue to use the cohort system. Specials will be taught in classrooms and meals will be served in the classrooms. Recess will happen with the classroom cohorts to reduce exposure.

Grades 6-12 will continue to physical distance when possible and seating will be assigned to “help limit the number of close contacts should a case arise.”

Carter says this plan could change as transmission levels within the community shift. The school will be working with the Calhoun County Public Health Department to modify as needed.

The first day of school is Wednesday, August 25.

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