By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
The upcoming school year will be one where students, staff and parents have to adjust to the changing learning plans school districts put in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Decisions on mask mandates were made in Allen Park, Riverview, Taylor and Trenton, each different by each school board and administration.
Allen Park Schools will require masks in all school buildings. The district adopted additional policies according to an Aug. 17 letter.
Those policies are face coverings required for all staff and students on school buses and private transportation carriers; face coverings required indoors for all students — regardless of vaccination status — except for students who have a documented medical or developmental condition; face coverings required indoors for all visitors, coaches and spectators; and face coverings required indoors for all staff, except for staff who have a documented medical condition.
Face coverings are required indoors for all student-athletes. Student-athletes may remove their mask when participating or competing in their indoor sport, but remain masked while on the bench.
Allen Park schools is returning to five full days of in-person instruction in all buildings, but also offered families a virtual option.
For the Riverview Community School District, both full time face-to-face instruction and virtual instruction through the Riverview Virtual Academy also will be offered.
Students and staff are required to follow all PPE and physical-distancing requirements with includes wearing masks and keeping a minimum of three feet of space between each other and a minimum of six feet between cohorts.
The Taylor School District decided on not mandating masks for face-to-face learning, but instead highly recommending that they are worn indoors universally within buildings.
While outdoors, the district is continuing to allow students and employees to choose their preference, a FAQ regarding the 2021-22 school year said.
A virtual option was offered for families who want to enroll their students in the Taylor Virtual Learning Academy while allowing students to still participate in school activities.
Trenton Schools also recommended masks, but does not have a mask mandate for the upcoming school year. Vaccines are not required for school attendance, according to a letter to the community.
Parents who are not yet comfortable sending their students to school for face-to-face instruction had the virtual learning option available to enroll for K-12. Students in virtual learning can still participate in extracurricular activities as well.
The mask requirement on school buses falls under the requirement set by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services for public transportation regardless of vaccination status.
The Wayne County Health Department’s public health advisory provided information to keep public and private school students and staff safe, but did not make wearing masks a requirement.
Social distancing recommendations of at least three feet between individuals and proper ventilation which helps reduce virus particles in the air and can reduce transmission risk.
No statewide mask mandate was issued by the MDHHS itself, allowing school districts to make their own decisions.
The MDHHS recommends that all schools adopt policies to, promote vaccination for eligible students, staff and families; require universal masking for students, staff and visitors regardless of community transmission rate or vaccination status; and implement layered prevention measures.
For more information on the learning plans or updates, go to each district’s websites.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)