Hillsdale Academy is bringing stu­dents back in-person during the COVID-19 pan­demic. Courtesy | Collegian

Hillsdale area schools face a variety of back-to-school plans amidst the ongoing pan­demic. The Hillsdale Com­munity schools are offering stu­dents an option between in-person and remote classes. The Hillsdale Academy, on the other hand, returned to school in-person on August 31st, and will not be offering a hybrid or remote learning plan, according to Head­master David Diener. 

“For hun­dreds of years, the process of edu­cation has involved human-to-human inter­action between teachers and stu­dents, engaging together in the process of learning,” Diener said. “We place a high value on in-person edu­cation and believe that we can fulfill our mission of pro­viding an aca­d­e­m­i­cally excellent clas­sical Christian edu­cation to stu­dents and their fam­ilies best in person.”

In order to accom­modate face-to-face learning with safety in mind, Hillsdale Academy has put together a detailed set of guide­lines and pro­tocols to protect against the spread of the novel coro­n­avirus within the school. 

According to the 2020 – 2021 Return to Learn plan, “All stu­dents in grades 6 – 12 will wear facial cov­erings when in hallways and common areas except during meals and if facial cov­erings cannot be med­ically tol­erated.” The guide­lines also include an “increased fre­quency in the cleaning and dis­in­fecting of com­monly touched sur­faces,” and even “modular ion­ization tech­nology which has been doc­u­mented to neu­tralize and elim­inate COVID-19 as well as other viruses.” 

“For the fam­ilies who are con­cerned about safety, we have a number of really effective mea­sures in place to create a school envi­ronment that is as safe as pos­sible,” Diener said. “We’re starting the year not doing chapel, or opening cer­emony, or lunch together, which are all important cul­tural aspects of our school. We want to min­imize the potential contact tracing or effects that could happen if we have a pos­itive case.”

Hillsdale Com­munity Schools have a dif­ferent back-to-school plan, which will offer stu­dents a choice between in-school learning and remote learning. Either option will begin on Sep­tember 8th.

According to Admin­is­trative Assistant for Insti­tu­tional Devel­opment Paula Crites, the district’s goals and pri­or­ities in cre­ating the back-to-school guide­lines were to “ensure the safety and wellness of stu­dents and staff, deliver high-quality instruction to stu­dents, regardless of the delivery model; and to provide flex­i­bility and choice of instruc­tional delivery through online and in-person options.” Crites noted that as of August 25th, 23% of stu­dents had reg­is­tered for online courses. 

According to Hillsdale Com­munity Schools’ Con­ti­nuity of Learning Plan, COVID-19, “The Dis­trict will utilize a hybrid approach for its Dis­tance Learning Plan with hard copy instruc­tional packets and online learning plat­forms… For stu­dents with internet access, but are without a device, Chrome­books will be made available.”

Will Car­leton Academy also plans to return to school in-person, while offering the option of online learning. 

According to the Will Car­leton Academy website, “All con­sid­er­a­tions have been ana­lyzed to ensure a safe, healthy and pro­ductive return to school. Cur­riculum, student achievement and aca­demic growth, and the social and emo­tional well-being of all stu­dents, staff, and fam­ilies have been dis­cussed when con­sid­ering the list of pri­or­ities for planning.” 

Each school and school dis­trict has care­fully tai­lored a back-to-school plan most suitable for their stu­dents’ needs and may change pro­tocol as infor­mation about the novel coro­n­avirus changes.