MANTON — Following suit with other districts in the area, Manton Consolidated Schools on Tuesday released details of their fall reopening plan.
In a video posted on the district's website and on YouTube, Superintendent Len Morrow said in drafting their plan, school officials adopted the "vast majority" of guidelines suggested by the state in phases four and five of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.
Morrow said the goal of their reopening plan is centered on two main objectives — to keep students and staff safe and to provide the best possible academic environment and support.
One of the most noticeable changes this year will be mask requirements: students in fifth through 12th grade will be required to wear masks at all times on the bus and at school; students in kindergarten through fourth grade will be required to wear masks on the bus, in common areas and when they're working closely with other students and teachers. Morrow said teachers will monitor students to determine when it's OK for them to remove their masks while in class.
At the high school, lunch period will be divided into two, half hour segments to reduce the number of kids in the cafeteria at any given time. At the elementary and middle schools, students will eat their lunches one grade level at a time.
As for sanitation protocols, Morrow said there will be one custodian whose sole job is to clean frequently touched surfaces and bathrooms throughout the day.
Morrow said they've also purchased several sanitizing machines to clean buses after every route. The machines, which Morrow said will improve their sanitation effectiveness and efficiency, also will be used for cleaning classrooms and other district facilities.
All desks will be sanitized between classroom switches. In addition, Morrow said lockers will not be used in the high school to cut down on students congregating in the hallways between class periods.
All classrooms and buses will have hand sanitizer available for students to use.
The district's approach to instruction will be a hybrid system featuring face-to-face learning, virtual learning and independent study.
Under the hybrid schedule, elementary and middle school students will be finished with their face-to-face instruction time by 1 p.m. From 1-2 p.m., teachers will be able to work with students individually; this schedule will allow teachers to assess student progress earlier in the year and take steps to address shortcomings as they arise, Morrow said.
In grades 7-12, students will begin their studies at school and end them at home. From 1-2 p.m., students will engage in independent study, during which time they can receive assistance from their teachers.
Morrow said the schedule has no teacher prep time built in, which means that every teacher will be in the classroom all day, thereby reducing the number of students in each classroom.
Special classes for elementary and middle school students will be conducted virtually, allowing students to remain in the same class most of the day and cutting down on the amount of room-to-room traveling that teachers must do. Morrow added that by being in the same class most of the time, students will have longer uninterrupted periods of math and reading instruction.
The district plans to have extra bus runs to reduce the number of students on each bus. Morrow encourages parents to fill out the transportation survey on the district's website by this Friday to help them draft a busing schedule.
Morrow said each school building will be releasing additional details about reopening in the days leading up to the first day of school, Aug. 26.