Virtual classes, in-person tutoring at Muskegon schools

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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — Classes are all virtual at Muskegon Public Schools, but the district is offering in-person tutoring.

It’s a plan designed by a leadership team within the district to work for the students, staff and the entire community.

With only a year under his belt as the superintendent at Muskegon Public Schools, Matthew Cortez, like school leaders across the country, was tasked with reinventing the wheel.

“We actually sat down and thought through a process and worked with our teachers on that process,” said Cortez.

The district settled on a plan early on, giving staff weeks to prepare and train.

The result is a distance learning plan that keeps students at home and places Chromebooks in their hands with live instruction from their teachers.

Senior Madelynn Garver admits it has been hard and certainly different.

“Nobody wants to have to do it virtual because relationships and connections is what humans thrive off of,” said Garver.

Cortez knew with the new HVAC systems funded by recently approved bonds not in yet in place and the number of homes occupied by multiple generations in the district coming back to the classroom wasn’t a safe bet right now.

Still, the schools are not locked up and empty. There is a plan for those who need that one on one instruction or a little extra help.

“We are running our buses and bringing students by appointment in for tutoring and small group work in a maximum number of eight students in a classroom,” said Cortez.

Cortez says they saw a lot of students overwhelmed last spring when schools shut down. This year’s plan spreads that schedule out — three classes this semester and three next.’’

“They’re not missing out on any of credits over the course of the whole year. It’s just a different way of approaching those credits,” said Cortez.

Muskegon’s plan can move from virtual to in-person without skipping a beat.

“Just keeping that central focus on what is best for kids, what is best for staff and then what’s best for our community,” said Cortez.

He says most of the feedback has been positive.

“People are really respectful that we just didn’t plug and chug. That we actually sat down and thought through a process and worked with our teachers on that process,” said Cortez.

Cortez says they are re-evaluating every month to see if the time is right to move back into the classroom.

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