L’Anse Creuse responds to Michigan safe schools roadmap

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published July 17, 2020

 L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Superintendent Erik Edoff calls the MI Safe Schools Roadmap comprehensive and a positive guide.

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools Superintendent Erik Edoff calls the MI Safe Schools Roadmap comprehensive and a positive guide.

File photo provided by Erik Edoff

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Uncertainty has been a word that Erik Edoff has been using more and more during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The L’Anse Creuse Public Schools superintendent said teachers are extremely organized, which has been difficult, adding that the district has to prepare for multiple scenarios and be ready to execute when situations can and will likely change.  

June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released the MI Safe Schools Roadmap.

It directs school districts to develop return-to-school plans and includes guidance on personal protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning protocols, athletics, and more.

The document is intended to aid districts in creating local plans for in-person learning in the fall.

Edoff classified the roadmap as being comprehensive and positive.

“It provides for us, presuming we don’t go backward in the number of cases, a mechanism to have face-to-face teaching and learning, which is something I will always advocate for,” he said.

Safety protocols detailed in the roadmap include guidance on PPE use, good hygiene, cleaning/disinfecting, spacing in classrooms and screening for symptoms.

“Thanks to our aggressive action against this virus, the teachers who have found creative ways to reach their students and the heroes on the front lines, I am optimistic that we will return to in-person learning in the fall,” Whitmer said.

The executive order requires school districts to adopt a COVID-19 preparedness and response plan laying out how it will protect students and educators across the various phases of the Michigan Safe Start Plan.

“Our plan has been in place for our employees as far as protocols for physically interacting at work and what those procedures are if they were to have contact with someone with the illness or have it themselves,” Edoff said.

Last month, the state’s Return to Learn Advisory Council was formed. It consists of 25 leaders in health care and education.

The council was created to identify the critical issues that must be addressed, provide valuable input to inform the process of returning to school and ensure a smooth and safe transition back to school.

Nina Davis, principal of L’Anse Creuse Middle School-East in Chesterfield Township, said she’s glad to have guidance.

She served on a Michigan Department of Education work group prior to the roadmap being released. The group provided guidance to MDE and to the governor’s task force in developing the roadmap.

“I appreciate the fact it provides local flexibility so we can make decisions specific to our district and building,” Davis said.

Edoff said students need to be in classes and with teachers, not only from an academic standpoint, but for social and emotional learning and peer connections.  

He believes the roadmap allows for common sense local decision-making, with local control and working with local health departments.

The order also requires the wearing of facial coverings for all staff and all students in grades pre-kindergarten and higher when in indoor hallways and common areas; all staff when in classrooms; all students in grades sixth and higher when in classrooms; and all students in grades kindergarten through fifth unless students remain with their classes throughout the school day and do not come into close contact with students in another class.

Regarding purchasing PPE for the district, Edoff said state funding is very limited right now, and PPE and other additional equipment will cost more.

He said Macomb County has been extremely generous in purchasing PPE, placing large orders for all Macomb County school districts.  

From a cleanliness standpoint, L’Anse Creuse Public Schools has conducted advanced cleaning procedures since March, using electrostatic disinfection and spray machines for classrooms and surfaces.

Edoff plans on working with other area school districts in creating commonality when feasible. He expects details of the district’s student return plan to be released the second week of August.

For the 2020-21 school year, the district will provide an online option built on how classes were conducted in the spring, in addition to traditional in-person education.

Davis said the concerns with the roadmap are the unknowns of how the fall will look and how many COVID-19 cases there are by then.

L’Anse Creuse Public Schools consists of over a dozen schools across Macomb, Harrison, Chesterfield and Clinton townships.  

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