By Shelby Stewart
The Brandon Board of education voted 5-0 to approve the district’s return to learn plan on Monday night. Board members Kevin McClellen and John Chartier were absent.
“We’ve done a number of surveys starting all the way back in spring, and we’ve worked, and we’ve narrowed our focus as the year’s gone on, really working towards delivering what our families and our parents are really looking for in the fall,” said Dr. Matt Outlaw, district superintendent
Outlaw said in addition to safety, they have looked at wellness for the students when deciding on what to do for the school year.
“Our number one focus is about safety and wellness,” said Outlaw. “When I say wellness, there’s risk that’s related to COVID-19 but there’s a bigger picture than that, we’ve also been looking at things like mental health, things like nutrition, overall health, and all the different things that are attached to our school.”
Students will be going back to Brandon on Sept. 8, with 813 students opting for virtual learning and the rest, about 1,500 district-wide, in person.
“Because we have 813 people that have moved over to our Brandon Learn from Home program, and also because our facilities have larger classrooms, we are in really good shape,” said Outlaw.
“We’re able to have near-full classrooms with six feet social distancing on all sides.”
In addition to the ability to spread out in classrooms, all students will be provided a device. Young kids will get Ipads at the early elementary level and the rest of the students will receive Chromebooks.
“Additionally we’ve taken into account our staff, what kind of things do we need in order to make sure our staff are safe and feeling comfortable,” said Outlaw.
Masks are required for everyone of all ages, and there will be mask breaks throughout the day such as when eating or when younger students are on recess.
“There are some children who, if they don’t have the ability to take the mask off, they would be able to wear a face shield instead,” said Diane Zedan, director of preschool and special education for the district. “There are some children with other special needs and sensory issues, so those special cases would have the ability to have a different expectation for them, a different kind of facial covering or a mask, but those would be the exception.”
Special education will also continue to follow individual student’s IEPs to the best of their abilities, both for virtual and for in-person instruction.
Cleaning throughout the district will also be ramped up. Bus drivers will be spraying their buses with an electro-static sprayer after each run, meaning twice in the morning and twice in the afternoon. There will also be an extra custodian during the day for additional cleaning.
For students in middle and high school, who will be operating on a block schedule, they will be asked to clean their desks twice a day with a provided wipe that does not require gloves to use. This cleaning will need to be done after the first two block periods, and a custodian will clean them at the end of the day.
There will also be a nurse on staff, provided by the Oakland County Health Department, for the district to receive guidance from if there is a case of COVID-19 in the district or for other COVID related decisions.
“At this point, each teacher will be provided their own sanitizer for their desk and 2 other sanitizer bottles that the students will be using, and we are considering providing each teacher a spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels to use as