DEARBORN — Following recommendations from federal, state, and local health officials, Dearborn Public Schools has decided on an approach to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
With more than 20,000 students returning to full, in-person learning beginning Aug. 30, all students, staff and visitors will be required to wear face masks inside of the schools, air circulation is being increased in all buildings, social distancing of at least 3 feet is required in all classrooms and numerous other steps will be taken to try to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“Community health experts at the state and local level are emphasizing that schools need to take a layered approach with multiple measures, including face masks, to keep students safe and in-school,” Superintendent Glenn Maleyko said. “We want to give our students the best possible chance for a full year of face-to-face learning, which means taking what steps we can to stay safe, especially now with the Delta variant.”
The mask requirement is currently going to run through Oct. 1, at which point the district will re-evaluate conditions to decide whether it will be extended. The district is not requiring masks outside of the school buildings.
Student athletes will continue to follow guidelines provided by the Michigan High School Athletic Association and spectators will be allowed at this year’s sporting events.
We are very excited to bring students back to the classrooms. We know there will also be anxiety, which is why we are taking these mitigation strategies seriously. — Superintendent Glenn Maleyko
With 600 students enrolled in the new Virtual Learning K-12 School, all other students will return to full, in-person learning on Aug. 30, for the first time since March 2020.
Maleyko also said that the district is strongly encouraging vaccines in the community.
“We will again be working with Wayne County to be able to host vaccine clinics and clinics to provide the booster shots,” he said. “We do have about 75 to 80 percent of our staff that are fully vaccinated. The vaccine isn’t required at this time, but we strongly encourage it.”
The schools will also limit large indoor gatherings of students and staff to no more than 50 percent of that room’s capacity, including auditoriums and gyms.
Outside groups can request to use district buildings, but must comply with current district safety precautions.
In-building open houses will be held in September, but may be limited to students and parents/guardians.
As legislators waived the “seat time” rules last year to give schools flexibility to deal with the pandemic, students will not be able to switch to online or blended learning as students must attend class in-person for the district to receive its state funding, which accounts for about 70 percent of the district’s general fund revenue.
“All of our prevention strategies follow the recommendations from public health experts,” Maleyko said. “They tell us that face masks really do work and that we need to combine mask usage with other precautions to protect people and keep schools open. Almost one-fifth of the Dearborn community passes through our buildings every school day. We need this layered approach to do our part to protect everyone who lives, works or learns in this community.”
Maleyko also said that the district has heavily invested in social and emotional learning to help students cope with the pandemic.
“We had over 8,400 students in our summer program, which was the largest I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We are very excited to bring students back to the classrooms. We know there will also be anxiety, which is why we are taking these mitigation strategies seriously. We don’t want the spread to happen in our schools. We want to keep our students and staff safe. We are so thankful for the parents and their patience. It’s been a rough year and a half for everyone, but we are in this together and our staff will continue to go above and beyond.”