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Return to Learn, Update
Return to Learn, Update
District
Thursday, July 23, 2020

RETURN TO SCHOOL ANNOUNCEMENT 

July 24, 2020

Dear Community Members and Parents,

A few weeks ago Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap and we have been working on our plan. The following answers several questions:

While there are still significant unknowns about the future of COVID-19 and its impact on Michigan, the governor is committed to providing the guidance, support and clarity needed to safely bring students back to the classroom for in-person instruction for the 2020-21 school year. In doing so, we will continue to put safety first, leveraging science, data and public health evidence to inform the decisions we make to serve each and every student in Michigan well. Please know that HPSD will have a home-based virtual option available for any families who are not comfortable attending school in a face-to-face setting in the fall.

The MI Safe Schools Roadmap is a comprehensive document to help districts create local plans for in-person and remote learning in the fall. The Roadmap outlines a number of safety protocols for schools to implement in each phase of the MI Safe Start Plan. The governor also signed Executive Order 2020-142, which provides the formal legal frameworks to implement the Roadmap.

The COVID-19 preparedness and response plan will lay out how districts will protect students and educators across various phases of the MI Safe Start Plan. The Roadmap offers guidelines as to the types of safety protocols required or recommended at each phase. Recognizing that these protocols require funding. The safety protocols detailed in the roadmap includes guidance on the use of Personal Protective Equipment, proper hand hygiene techniques, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms, screening for symptoms, athletics, and more. The Roadmap also recognizes the impact COVID-19 has had on students’ and educators’ metal health, and offers guidance on how schools can address this issue.

What is the role of my local school district and school board in reopening?

The governor will determine the “when” and “where”— whether schools can reopen (or need to close) for in-person instruction. However, your local school officials, including superintendents and school boards, will determine the “how” — the mode of instruction (in-person, hybrid, or remote), each grade’s curriculum and support services for students and staff — based on the parameters established by the governor and local needs and context.

Will my child be required to wear a facial covering?

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and MDHHS have concluded facial coverings help mitigate the spread of COVID-19 to others, especially those at higher risk of illness. As such, your child may be required to wear a facial covering, depending on the child’s grade and which phase their district is in. Schools may choose to implement stronger safety protocols to further minimize spread.

Students in grades PreK-5 are not required to wear a facial covering in classrooms.

Any student who cannot medically tolerate a facial covering must not be required to wear one. Facial coverings are not required, but strongly recommended in Phase 5 of the MI Safe Start Plan. In Phase 4 of the MI Safe Start Plan, facial coverings are required for:

  • PreK-12 students while on school transportation.
  • Students in grades 6-12 at all times except during meals.
  • Students in grades PreK-5, when in hallways and common areas.

Will my student have their temperature checked?

The MI Safe Schools Roadmap does not require schools to check a student’s temperature. However, schools may choose to implement stronger safety protocols than those required by the Roadmap.

What about sports?

School athletics may continue in Phases 4-6, with some required health and safety protocols. Schools will be directed follow guidance published by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and the National Federation of State High School Associations.

What about other extracurricular activities?

Extracurricular activities may continue in Phases 4-6, with some required health and safety protocols. These types of activities may be limited or restricted especially at the start of the school year. 

Is my child going to have in-person instruction this year?

In developing this Roadmap, the governor, the Return to School Advisory Council and the COVID-19 Task Force’s goal was to maximize the amount of in-person instruction students receive while preserving the health and safety of students, teachers and staff. In doing so, the Roadmap outlines the minimum health and safety requirements necessary for schools to reopen for in-person instruction. We at HPSD are planning for face-to-face instruction this fall. 

How can I get communication about changes as things develop?

COVID-19 Preparedness and Response Plans for each phase will need to be approved by your local school board and submitted to the state. The plans are required to be posted prominently on the front page of the district’s website so you can read and understand your school’s plans.

Am I allowed to visit my child at school?

The Roadmap does not prohibit parents or other visitors from entering school buildings, though schools may choose to limit parents and visitors entering buildings to extenuating circumstances which will most likely be the case at HPSD. 

What happens if a child or staff gets sick at school?

Schools are required to cooperate with the local health department regarding implementing protocols for screening students and staff. If a student becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19 while at school, schools should quarantine them until they can be picked up by a parent or guardian. Symptomatic students and staff should be kept home until they have tested negative or have been released from isolation according to CDC guidelines.

What happens if a child or staff tests positive?

Following regular public health practice, the local health department will initiate contact tracing to identify those who were in close contact to the individual (i.e., less than six feet apart for at least 15 minutes). Those who were in close contact will be asked to self-quarantine. Local health officials, depending on situation, may identify other exposure situations that require quarantine. School staff and officials, in accordance with federal and state privacy laws, are barred from disclosing student and staff health information, including whether a specific individual tested positive for COVID-19.

Stay tuned in for more information.   

During the next few weeks, HPSD will release additional information and guidelines for opening school. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we plan and implement return to school protocols that provide quality teaching and learning while maintaining the safety and well-being of all involved. Please know that HPSD will have a home-based virtual option available for any families who are not comfortable attending school in a face-to-face setting in the fall.  Our tentative start date for the first day of school is August 24, 2020.

All the best, 

Don Killingbeck 

Superintendent