Michigan high schools return to in-person class

NOW: Michigan high schools return to in-person class

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BUCHANAN, Mich. -- Michigan high schools getting the first day of school under their belt Monday after nearly two months of E-learning under the epidemic order from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services – in response to a surge of COVID-19 cases the state saw this fall.

“We were going to close for about a week and let all those kids come back, let things return to normal, and I was actually sending that letter out to parents and then the Governor’s office came out and said we’re going to close,” said Coloma Superintendent Dave Ehlers.

But the challenges that preceded the closure haven’t disappeared and a big concern continues to be staffing issues associated with coronavirus contact tracing and quarantine rules.

“In all honesty, I think that’s what most districts in Michigan are going to face right now, if we get to the point of another shutdown it will be more because of staff,” said Buchanan High School Vice-Principal Brian Pruett.

Yet, with most students originally opting for in-person instruction at both Buchanan and Coloma high schools, it was especially hard for these kids to pivot to entirely virtual.

“The face-to-face learning is really beneficial and nice compared to virtual, it was a lot easier to do E-learning this time around, but still, being in school is better,” said Buchanan High School Freshmen Riley Capron.

And there were still plenty of kinks for teachers to work out too —

“Technology is the biggest issue, as teachers we taught from school so we had the internet, but I had a handful of kids who didn’t have internet on a daily basis or had spotty internet,” said Coloma High School English teacher Jennifer Ickes.

But what’s most important is seeing the students happier than ever to be at school and seamlessly returning to all of those COVID-19 safety precautions in place since fall.

“It’s been almost two months since they’ve been at school and kids came in and did exactly what they did prior,” said Pruett.

“We have a lot of kids back in school and ready to be back, so I think we’re doing great for the first day,” said Ehlers.

E-learning is still an option at Coloma and Buchanan for any students who preferred to stay home and both districts say they’re ready to go all virtual again if needed.

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