By David Fleet
Goodrich- It had been six months since students statewide had attended classes following an abrupt shutdown due to the coronavirus.
GHS Senior Georgia Berger was one of those students that opted to return on Sept. 8 to a somewhat traditional face-to-face classroom setting. Other classmates choose to stay home and start the school year in a virtual setting.
“We have not been able to see anybody for so long,” said Berger, 17. “Face-to-face is best for me. I want to be able to ask the teacher questions rather then emailing or online notes.”
Since those first days back Berger and her classmates have been striving to stay in the school buildings.
Wayne Wright, district superintendent said the first weeks of school has been going well given the COVID-19 protocol.
“When I’m walking around these buildings I’m seeing students with their masks on, I’m seeing them wearing them appropriately over the nose and across the chin. It seems to be rolling well,” said Wright.
April 2, Gov. Whitmer ordered that students in the state will not return to K-12 school buildings the rest of the academic year due to the coronavirus pandemic. When that decision was made all public and private schools were more than halfway through a four-week shutdown that started in March, ordered by Whitmer to combat the outbreak.
Since then, districts have been working to keep students and staff safe.
“Buildings, transportation, technology, food service—great starts,” said Wright. “This does not happen unless there is a lot of planning in place and a lot of people put a lot of effort in what they needed to do. Everything has been going well in the face-to-face.”
Getting students to and from school is going well, he said.
“I have not heard of one issue with the bus transportation,” said Wright, following the first weeks of school. “We do have one bus that is fairly loaded, of a 72 passenger bus we have 47 students. The buses are carrying 18 to 25 students—about the average route size.”
Meals are provided to the students.
District food service are making meals for studens which are 100 percent free, he said.
“Parents can also come in and pick up meals for the virtual children,” he said. “About 100 parents have came in the first week and picked up meals for the week.”
The program is in place until Dec. 31 or until the state runs out of money for that service, he said.
Wright agreed there has been bumps in the virtual world of learning, he said.
As of the start of school 495 students were in the Accelerate Education program—offered online. After some updates to the curriculum this summer Accelerate was released it to the GISD at the beginning of August.
“Of the 21 districts in the county about a dozen or more have Accelerate—it was the program of choice,” he said. “We are all struggling with it, every districts is having some trouble. It will take some time yet, and there will be bumps in the road. With 25 percent of the students in that program we are doing the best we can to get that going.”
While some students are at home learning there are about 1,600 students in the district who opted for the face-to-face.
GHS Junior Noah Keller, 16, said he opted to return to the classroom because not only does he learn better face-to-face but he missed the socialization.
“After six months it was pretty tough to get back into your core classes, math, English,” he said. “Honestly it’s tough to rethink a math problem after six months. It’s different trying to get back and a normal scheduled.”
GHS Senior Georgia Berger said she was really excited to see friends.
“It’s my last year and I want to experience high school activities.”
Berger, like other students hopes homecoming courts, dances and pep assemblies will be part of the school year during the pandemic.
Like Keller and Berger, GHS Sophomore Macy Polasek, 14, selected the face-to-face classes.
“I feel safe in the classroom,” said Polasek. “We stay apart and the other students keep their masks on during the day. Most of us want to follow the rules so we can stay in class rather than working from home.”
Keller recognized that staying safe at school was important for several reasons.
“I have family that I just don’t want to bring the virus home to,” he said. “It’s not worth the risk of at school to get a family member sick.”