REED CITY — Reed City Board of Education has decided on a start date for the 2020-2021 school year and a basic reopening plan has been put in place.

At a special meeting on Thursday, Aug. 7, the Reed City Area Public Schools BOE, voted to start school on Aug. 31 and to have five-day in-person learning with an online option.

In making the decision to start the school year on Aug. 31 rather than Aug. 25, the board hopes to allow for more time for teachers to plan for the new school year.

"Schools could get shut down again if there is another spike," Board President Jamie Eichenberg said. "In giving that one extra week before labor day, it gives teachers time to prepare but also gives students a chance to get familiar with the equipment and systems in case of another shutdown."

Though there are not school-specific plans put in place yet, the BOE did decide, in a six yes to one no vote, on a reopening plan that would allow for five-day instruction both in person or online.

"There are not specific hows but we have the general whats of what Reed City Schools is going to do," Eichenberg said. "Which is a full-time in-person school with an online option for those who are not comfortable sending their student back to school yet."

Board member Derrick Bookwalter was the one board member who voted against going back to face-to-face learning five days a week and instead believed it would be best to go to a hybrid learning system.

"With a hybrid learning system, we could still have a piece of that in-person learning while minimizing the interaction of students even further," he said. "If we are worried about anything spreading or having to close

Ultimately, the board decided that the year would start with face-to-face learning, provide an online option and reassess as time goes on.

If picking the online option for a student at the elementary and middle school level, the district is asking that parents commit to nine weeks of online instruction. If a student is in high school and plans on participating in online learning, the district is asking for a trimester long commitment.

For those choosing to be in a classroom, masks will be mandatory on busses and in all common areas such as lunchrooms and hallways. Masks will not be mandatory for those at the elementary school while students are in their classrooms. Teachers and other adults in the buildings will be required to wear masks at all times throughout the day.

Classrooms will be supplied wall-mounted hand sanitizing dispensers and all building entrances will have potable dispensers.

A cleaning schedule will also be put into place to allow for routine sanitation of high traffic areas and staff will be in charge of wiping down desks and other areas of classrooms throughout the day.

Schools will also not be checking students' temperatures when they come to school every day. Instead, Superintendent Michael Sweet said it will be up to the parents to monitor their students for any signs or symptoms.

"To line (students) up every day to get their temperature checked only brings them closer together and takes up a lot of time to do," he said. "So, we will be sending a checklist home to parents for them to go through on a daily basis and make the decision at that time."

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