BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Battle Creek Public Schools is planning to bring elementary students back in person this fall while older kids keep up with virtual learning.
Superintendent Kimberly Carter laid out the proposal at a Monday evening school board meeting held via Zoom.
Assuming the region is still in phase 4 of the state’s six-phase reopening spectrum as school starts, kindergarteners through fifth graders will be in school full time. Sixth through 12th graders will have remote learning with live virtual check-ins five days a week.
“In the data that we have, less than 30% of Battle Creek schools elementary students participated regularly in distance learning last spring,” Carter explained the decision. “I really want that to be an anchor by which we are having this conversation as we begin to make this proposal. That means seven out of 10 students did not regularly participate in distance learning and will have some adverse impact to the school closure.”
She said that two month of lost schooling works out to a year or more of lost skills.
“As a result of COVID, what early research is showing is that we have added a 20% gap between the highest and lowest-performing students,” Carter added.
If the region moves forward to phase 5, all students will go back to the classroom in person. If the coronavirus outbreak worsens and the region is moved back into phase 3 or worse, all students will switch to remove learning.
In any case, all students will get Chromebooks.
Any family that wishes its child to learn entirely online for the whole school year can enroll in the BCPS Virtual Academy, which Carter said families with specific health concerns may prefer.
Parents can ask questions during a Facebook Live at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday. The school board will vote on the proposal Aug. 3.
On the other side of the county, Albion College is planning to bring students back with a rigorous coronavirus testing regimen.
“Our COVID-19 testing and monitoring plan is comprehensive and on the forefront of public health responses to the current moment,” college President Matthew Johnson said in a Tuesday statement.
Students will use an app called Aura to screen their health before they go back to school and then get health reminders once back on campus. All students will get tested when they move in and self-quarantine for three days until they get a negative result back. If students test positive, they will be moved into isolation housing on campus.
Staff members will also get tested two weeks before interacting with others on campus.
Albion says community members and partners can also get tested through the school.
Testing Centers of America, which is providing testing for Albion, has promised to get results back consistently within 72 hours.
The school has also implemented new protocols, put in plexiglass barriers and automatic doors and is distributing personal protection equipment.