Dowagiac Union Schools superintendent offers update on reopening plans

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac Union Schools’ plan to reopen schools is taking shape.

In a Friday press release, Superintendent Jonathan Whan said the district is gathering information and guidance from different sources to aid their decision-making process.

“We believe that our schools are best suited for the development of the whole child through ‘face-to-face’ instruction and emotional support, as well as providing a wide range of experiences including the arts, activities and athletics, which are not an option that a virtual learning system can provide,” Whan said.

On June 30, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer released Executive Order 2020-142, which requires all school districts to produce a plan detailing how they will follow her reopening guidelines.

According to Whan, the plan will include a virtual option for families who do not feel comfortable sending their children back to school.

“These students will remain enrolled as Chieftains, and they will be able to complete the course offerings 100 percent online,” Whan said. “This option will be available for sixth through 12th grade, and we are working on a similar option for K through fifth grade.”

Whitmer’s “Return to School Roadmap” — a plan released alongside the Executive Order — contains guidelines for how the state’s K-12 schools should reopen in the fall.

The state will also send an additional $256 million to schools to cover the costs of purchasing masks, hand sanitizer, and other coronavirus-related supplies.

The Michigan government has divided the state into eight regions based on COVID-19 risk level and assigns each region a reopening phase from 1-6, with Phase 6 being post-pandemic.

Dowagiac falls under the Kalamazoo region, which is currently in Phase 4. Schools in Phase 4 are allowed to open for in-person instruction for more stringent required safety protocols.

Whan is hoping to have the plan ready for review by the board of education and submission to the state by July 31, but did note that public release may be delayed due to legal requirements.

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