File photo by Deb Jacques

L’anse Creuse board approves for face-to-face, virtual learning options

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published August 11, 2020


A special Aug. 10 board meeting of the L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Board of Education was held for the purpose of discussing its return to school plan. 

The L’Anse Creuse COVID-19 preparedness and response plan was unanimously approved by the board with the motion that changes based on new CDC guidelines for quarantine will be entered into the plan, verbiage will be changed to reflect that the district can’t require, rather recommend, someone get tested for COVID-19, and that the plan is a fluid, working document that may be modified as needed.

Nearly 300 attendees participated in the Zoom meeting, which lasted well into the night, with others watching a livestream on YouTube.  

The 92-page plan outlines safety and health protocols, and how the district will respond to the coronavirus across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.

Superintendent Erik Edoff said this is the most important topic that schools, parents, and communities have faced.

“As educators, school board members and as someone who has a family myself with other members in education, this is a significant issue,” he said. “It does not have any easy answers.”    

He noted that due to the nature of COVID-19, there remains unknown specifics at this time that the district will get better at addressing.

“From what you can see from districts around us, there've been a variety of solutions and it was quite specific, that the governor, under emergency powers, gave the authority to local districts to make decisions about what learning would look like in Phase 4, which is what we’re in right now.”  

Edoff noted that remote learning is in the event of intermittent school closures due to the spread of COVID-19 and as determined by the state, the district would prepare with a remote plan for students.

At the meeting, the board and district administrators gave a presentation to help families formulate a decision. 

The only scenario in which virtual learning would not be offered, as stated in the plan, is if the state returns to pre-pandemic conditions when there is no longer a pandemic.

In regard to personal protective equipment, or PPE, the district has hundreds of thousands of facemasks, sanitizing cleaners with material safety data sheets attached, face shields, N95 masks, and gloves for staff, and machines that can clean classrooms when vacated. 

Prior to school opening, buildings will produce videos showing how rooms will be spaced out, lunch procedures, and bus arrival and departure.  

The district’s virtual option would mirror in-person instruction. 

Students in virtual learning, who are required to remain in that setting for at least one semester, will attend all scheduled courses and teacher lessons each day, monitor and fully participate through Schoology, a virtual learning environment. 

Edoff said the virtual option is not intended to take away the work of teachers and not intended to create a double presentation situation. 

He noted that if the district had to go to remote leaning, it is working on creating an even schedule which addresses learning targets.

Lisa Montpas, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, said for in-person learning there will be scheduling modifications to address health requirements.

“In Phase 4, face coverings must be worn by all staff, all secondary students in grades  sixth through 12th grade in their classrooms, and all students when they are on the bus, in the hallway and in common areas,” she said.

Masks are recommended, but not required, in classrooms in preschool to fifth grade. 

Trustee Mary Hilton said the district has spent over $17,000 in cleaning supplies.

Edoff said Macomb County has supplied the district with equipment through October, with a commitment through December. 

Director for Elementary Education Laura Holbert said in the next couple weeks the district will have a better idea of how many students are opting for in-person education.

 “Students will be seated, whenever possible, with all the desks or tables facing the same direction with the maximum amount of distance between them,” she said. “We’re looking at what items we can take out of the classrooms.” 

For transportation, buses must be disinfected after each run and at the end of every day. Masks must be worn before entering buses, as well as sanitizing hands before entry. Windows are required to be down on buses whenever possible. 

Hilary Dubay, board president, ended the meeting saying what stands out about L’Anse Creuse is it is providing families with a choice on in-person or virtual learning. 

The district’s first day of school is scheduled for Sept. 8.