Lake Michigan Catholic introduces live classroom model for upcoming school year
ST. JOSEPH, Mich. -- Following Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s announcement that she plans for Michigan schools to resume in-person classes this fall, one Berrien County district is going above and beyond.
“Opportunity was the green light when I saw this coming on, I was like ‘We’re getting everything done that we can’t get done in 10 years here done in six months,’” said James White, Lake Michigan Catholic Middle/High School principal.
Lake Michigan Catholic is preparing to do all of the required safety measures from Gov. Whitmer’s plan — spacing out desks, increased sanitation and having PPE on hand.
But they’re taking it a step further with a state of the art, live classroom model.
“We’re trying to make any excuse for learning just eliminated in the future,” said White.
Gov. Whitmer says schools are currently at a level four, which means they can start the year with in-person classes. LMC plans to do so, but is offering a hybrid learning environment.
“If you’re sick or quarantined – not sick enough that you wouldn’t be able to wake up at 9 for my lovely English class – you would stream live in my classrooms now,” said White.
White also says they’ve added a unique element that maintains the real feel of being in a classroom.
“We’ve piloted and tested these – I’ll call it a hockey puck for a lack of a better word – which allows the students at home, through a Google meet, to come live through the camera in the classroom, see all of their friends, see the teacher and asks questions and the other kids hear it. That’s what the hockey puck would do verse just me and you going over a Google meet,” said White.
Plus — the school is providing Chrome books for every student.
As for those who want to come back into class, White says almost every class will have 15 people or less. They’re also taking advantage of another piece of technology to take temperatures.
“It’s like taking a picture,” said White.” “You walk in, you go like this, it takes their temperature, the green light goes on, they go to class.”
While the coronavirus pandemic was the catalyst for these changes, White says these measures are here to stay.
“I can now become marketable to all the home-schooled people who can’t have, say, biology. They can live stream in my class and when we do a lab, they come over and do the lab upstairs with my kids and it’ll change the whole game,” said White. “And it should’ve happened 20, 30, 40 years ago – but again, we’re comfortable so we don’t want to change. This was uncomfortable, we had to change.”
LMC is rolling the plan out at their middle and high schools this fall, while elementary schoolers will ease into it throughout the semester.