DEARBORN — After another school board meeting lasting longer than six hours, the Dearborn Board of education approved a reopening plan for the school district.
Late Monday night the board authorized administrators to start a blended learning program for elementary students once COVID conditions in the community improve, which may take several weeks.
Two weeks after the Wayne County Health Department’s safety rating for the district improves to at least a D and the seven-day average of positivity rate for the county outside of Detroit is below 5 percent for at least two weeks, the district can start bringing kindergarten through elementary students back to the classroom.
The county’s safe school matrix is based on community infection rate or number of cases per 100,000 people, if the infection rate is increasing or decreasing, and the county’s positivity rate.
Currently, most of Wayne County, including Dearborn Schools, has an E rating.
The district has also noted that it will work with the county to try to get relevant reports out to the public as well as on the district’s website.
The blended learning plan will mean that half of kindergarten to second grade students will come in for four hours on Monday and Thursday while the other half come Tuesday and Friday. Wednesdays will be utilized for live online learning for all students.
The district was authorized to start as early as Nov. 16, despite concerns about the current community conditions.
Grades three through five would begin the same blended schedule two weeks after the kindergarten through second grade groups would start and preschool programs would follow afterwards.
In the event of conditions declining or problems at a particular building, classes would move back to online only.
Under the plan, middle and high school students would not return to classes in person until at least the second semester in mid January and would potentially have a similar blended schedule.
Schools will be having siblings attend on the same day, dividing the school roughly by last name, and breakfast would be offered in the classroom, but students wanting lunch would take a boxed meal home. Plans are not yet confirmed for free meal distributions that will continue for other students.
Students and staff will be required to wear masks while they are in the buildings. The plan also noted that desks and other touch points will be sanitized every four hours or when students change classes.
Parents who are uncomfortable with the plan have until Oct. 30 to sign up to switch their children to the Virtual Learning Program. Parents are encouraged to go to https://vlp.dearbornschools.org or call (313) 827-3024.
Approximately 2,500 of the district’s 20,000 students are already enrolled in the Virtual Learning Program.
Superintendent Glenn Maleyko said he is grateful for this step.
“We are grateful for this concrete plan to start bringing students back to our schools because we know most students learn best in-person,” he said. “We hope with this gradual approach to show our community schools can resume relatively safely, and we ask the community to do its part to reduce the spread of the virus by wearing masks, social distancing, regular hand washing and taking other safety precautions.”