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.