2020 in Upper Michigan: How schools have adapted

A look back at 2020, and how online learning and in-class person education has changed.
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 12:28 PM EST
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DICKINSON CO., Mich. (WLUC) - From being in the classroom learning, to virtual for the remainder of the 2019- 2020 school year, K-12 schools have changed drastically. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, schools were the first to shut down after Gov. Gretchen Whitmer made the announcement on April 2nd.

“It was a plan that took into account that we’ve got 1.5 million children in Michigan, in our pupil count,” said Gov. Whitmer.

That closed 900 school districts across the state leading administration and staff to focus on improving virtual leering and the digital divide. Until June, students learned via online platforms, such as google classroom and may districts, like Breitung Township Schools moved one-to-one, meaning all students have their own device to use.

“Even when they’re at home, the teacher is able to get them resources like they’re never able to get to them before. They are able to continue that learning no matter what location that they’re in,” said Justin Cowen, the technology director for the Breitung Township School district.

This also meant many universities such as Michigan Tech and NMU moved to online learning. But while these students were at home, schools were being deep cleaned and many students were still provided with meals.

On June 30th, Gov. Whitmer announced $256 million from the state would be implemented towards Michigan K-12 safety measures to hopefully resume in-person learning in the fall; That meant schools could return. Using the Michigan safe start map.

Universities began moving college students into the dorms, after covid-19 testing, and each school had its own quarantine dorm, or room for positive cases. Students wore masks, desks were distanced a part, a new ‘normal’ for many, but like the NMU president Fritz says the message remained the same throughout the year.

“Continue to be safe, wear a mask, social distancing, washing hands,” said NMU president Erickson.

Then as cases increased in Upper Michigan, individual health departments made the call whether a school or district would have to shut down for a few days. Or weeks. In Dickinson County alone, the 4 main school districts have been back and forth from online to the classroom two different times, but staff and teachers remained vigilante to get students the education.

Students K-8th in the state have been back in the classroom for a few weeks now and high schoolers were allowed to resume in person on December 21st. As we approach the new year, extra-curricular activities may resume, except for those deemed high-risk. College and university restrictions will also be lifted, but the governor has asked colleges and universities to delay moving students back in until mid-January.


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