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Flint public schools return this week with COVID-conscious classrooms

steve carmody
Michigan Radio

As Flint public schools resume in-person classes for Kindergarten through third graders this week, mask wearing, sneeze guards and social distancing are on the curriculum along with Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.

It starts when students walk through the school door.

Every student and visitor to Flint schools will have to check in at a video kiosk or with hand held device to have their temperature checked.     There are also decals in the hallways, classrooms and lunchrooms to tell students where to walk, stand and sit.

All these precautions have been developed to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among students and school personnel.

Despite the lingering pandemic, Flint Community Schools assistant Superintendent Kevelin Jones says parents, wary of virtual learning, are increasing ready to send their children back to the classroom.

“When we first did our survey of parents it was around 40% (wanted their children to return to the classroom),” says Jones. “Now it’s about 70% of our scholars wanting to come back full time. We anticipate that number will grow.”

It won’t be full time in Flint classrooms just yet. 

Students will begin with a hybrid schedule. Under the schedule, half the students will be in the classroom on Mondays and Tuesdays, while the other half learn from home. The schedule flips the on Thursdays and Fridays.

This past week was busy for teachers and administrators. 

In addition to conducting remote learning for the district’s students, they also had to prepare for the return of in-person instruction.

Anna Johnson is the principal of Freeman Elementary. She says her teachers are prepped and vaccinated.  

“Emotionally, we’ve been ready to receive our kids,” says Johnson. “We want to see them face-to-face. We want to be able to give them those air hugs and elbow bumps to greet them back into the building.”

Johnson says teachers will have to work to get children who’ve fallen behind to catch up.  

There’s only about three months left to the current academic year. 

Flint public school officials are working on plans for the summer session and the beginning of the next academic year, which starts at the beginning of August. 

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Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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