Bessemer continues with in-person learning
October 8, 2020
By CHARITY SMITH
Bessemer — Students at Bessemer Area Schools will continue to attend classes in-person five days a week, after the school board passed an amendment on Monday, modifying its original plan for being in Phase 4 of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s MI Safe Start Plan.
The school had announced on Friday that it would be switching over to a blended learning plan due to the area dropping down a phase — from 5 to 4 — because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in the Upper Peninsula.
The district’s original COVID-19 preparedness and response plan for Phase 4 was formulated before the start of the school year. Under the blended plan, elementary students would attend classes virtually on Wednesdays and in-person the remaining weekdays. The junior and senior high students would be attending class in-person Monday and Tuesday, and then virtually the rest of the week.
However, according to superintendent Dan Niemi, after further looking into the updated regulations the governor implemented with the change in phase, the board determined that students would be allowed to continue attending classes in-person.
“It’s a very fluid situation,” Niemi said of the pandemic and the district’s plans can be altered at any time. “We are just trying to do what is best for our students, staff, and the community.”
He said that they decided to continue with in-person learning with some more strict regulations, as opposed to sending the students elsewhere for one to three days a week, to learn virtually, which could open the door to students bringing back the virus from elsewhere.
Students and staff are now required to wear masks at all times, except when they are eating, even in their cohorts and on the bus. Buses will continue to be deep cleaned after every run. Sporting events will commence, but attendance is at 20% capacity and the weight room is closed for after-school use.
In anticipation of the change in phase, Niemi said he had already implemented the face mask mandate on Oct. 1. He said the students are doing well with it and have adjusted quickly.