Superintendent of Hillsdale Community Schools Shawn Vondra said there is neither a recommendation nor a requirement for canceling in-person learning for Hillsdale County schools.
Both Hillsdale High School and Hillsdale Academy will continue in-person learning after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked for a statewide two-week pause of Michigan youth sports, indoor dining, and in-person learning.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Gov. Whitmer called on Michigan high schools to offer remote education for two weeks after spring break and pause all youth sports activity for two weeks. The article said the governor emphasized that she’s requesting, not mandating that schools close.
Vondra said he has received the updated information and guidance from the local health department regarding local and tri-county status. Although the district will continue with in-person classes and athletics, Vondra said they’re making changes with testing.
“Our district has added the weekly COVID-19 testing protocol in place for our student athletes (ages 13 and above),” Vondra said. “So that is yet an additional preventative measure in place.”
He added the Hillsdale Community Schools District will also continue their daily health screenings and contract tracing for any confirmed positive cases, as well as continuing to employ social distancing, mask-wearing, and “intensive cleaning protocols.”
Students benefit most from in-person classes, Vondra said, and that will continue to serve as the primary goal for local schools. He emphasized their consistent implementation of the safety measures has been effective and this level of vigilance will continue.
“Most students learn best with in-person instruction…” he said. “Our school district will continue to implement both the in-person learning and the virtual learning options for students. If a family is more comfortable switching to a virtual learning format (online) we respect that preference and will accommodate that request.”
The governor, however, doesn’t think in-person learning and youth sports are as beneficial at this time.
“We all know what works, and this has to be a team effort. We have to do this together — lives depend on it,” Gov. Whitmer said last Friday. “This is my ask to you, the people of Michigan. Please redouble your efforts on these fronts for the next couple of weeks.”
In the same press conference she called on the Biden Administration to send more of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Michigan and other states where cases are soaring. Pointing to a surge in COVID-19 cases in Michigan, Gov. Whitmer said this is the only way for Michiganders to avoid lost lives and ensure citizens’ safety.
Hillsdale high schools, however, aren’t pausing their education.
The only change Hillsdale Academy Assistant Headmaster Mike Roberts noted for Hillsdale Academy involved sports testing for high school students, which is similar to the testing for athletes within Hillsdale Community Schools.
“We did start today with mandated testing for kids 13 years and older,” he said. “So we went through our first round of testing today, and 75 tests were negative.”
After returning to school this past Monday after a week off for spring break, ROberts said the school will also remain open despite Gov. Whitmer’s request.
“We are moving forward. While at the same time continuing to just follow our protocols and keep an eye on things, we’ve been able to stay open and be safe for most of the year,” Roberts said.