CADILLAC — Since school ended in June, questions have been asked about what school would look like in the fall. Parents, students, and families within Cadillac Area Public Schools got those answers Monday.
At its board meeting Monday, the CAPS Board of Education approved the district's Preparedness Plan by a vote of 7-0. The plan was worked on by a committee of more than 50 people including staff, teachers, and parents.
Before the vote, five of the seven board members made comments and asked questions ranging from commending the work of the committee to the learning options and the availability of personal protective equipment.
Following Executive Order 2020-142, the district's plan addresses what will happen depending on what phase the district is in. As of Monday, CAPS will begin the new school year in Phase 5 on Aug. 31.
While information about the district's cleaning/disinfecting protocols and three learning options were released in varying levels of detail already, one part of the district's preparedness plan that many CAPS families have been waiting for was released — What happens when someone at school gets COVID-19?
In the plan, which was guided by District Health Department No. 10, the district will send a general notification to parents, staff about the confirmed case while also protecting the confidentiality of the student or staff member. Likewise, the district and the health department will work together to identify close contacts.
"CAPS will send families a phone call, text message, and email if there is a confirmed COVID case within the building/classroom," CAPS Superintendent Jennifer Brown said. "Any close contact will receive a separate communication from the school or health department with additional requirements including quarantine information."
Those close contacts will then be placed into a 14-day quarantine based on their last exposure to the COVID positive student or staff member.
The health department also will interview COVID positive person and determine the isolation period and any non-school-related contacts. Once the isolation period is completed, the student or staff will return to school.
If the plan needs to be tweaked, it will, according to Brown. Board member Mike Stebbins also asked about the ability to alter the plan and what that would look like.
"If there is a need to change the plan, we can submit an amendment to the department of education for approval. So there is flexibility in changing the plan, but it is not a plan that can be changed on the fly," Brown said. "The plan will be posted on Cadillac schools.org for review as well as accompanying documents providing parents and stakeholders clarification."
Brown also said there are various circumstances outlined by the health department guidance that will be available for parents and additional information regarding specific scenarios can be found on the website.
With the action taken Monday, Brown said in the next few days parents/CAPS families will receive communication from the district regarding the details of the plan as well as recommendations for the upcoming school year. She also said the district is working on a "Frequently Asked Questions" that will be linked on the district's website.
Last month, the district released its plan regarding how it would educate students, which included options for face-to-face learning at school, a fully virtual online plan, and a hybrid model that would be a combination of both. What a typical day would look like and safety protocols, however, were not released until the board's vote Monday.
Brown said the information was released to parents and the community after Monday's meeting. In addition to needing board approval, Brown said the district also was waiting on getting some clarifications from the health department before the plan could be finalized. That clarification was received on July 30, according to statements Brown made last week. This included the health department's guidance on what the district should do if a student/staff is showing signs of illness and/or tested positive with COVID-19.
On June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap, which is designed to help districts create local plans for in-person learning in the fall. It outlines several safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the governor’s MI Safe Start Plan.
If parents have questions or concerns about anything regarding back to school or the district's plan, Brown said they can call CAPS Central Office at 876-5000. The full plan is available at www.cadillacschools.org.