Hillsdale High School keeps its doors open despite Gov. Whit­mer’s request for closure. Maggie Hroncich | Collegian

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.