DUS prepares for return of in-person learning next week

DOWAGIAC — Dowagiac Union Schools students and teachers will be returning to in-person learning next week, and the district is gearing up for their return.

During its Dec. 14 meeting, the DUS board of education voted in favor of having students participate in virtual learning for one week following the holiday break before returning to in-person instruction on Monday, Jan. 11.

“Our staff and students continued with distance learning this week,” said Superintendent Jonathan Whan. “There’s no special process, just a continuation of what has been working. We’re confident that students and staff will continue to work hard and keep the ball rolling.”

The district has been preparing since Christmas break for the students’ return, using electrostatic sprayers to disinfect its buildings and performing deep cleaning projects.

“During Christmas break and spring break, there are annual cleaning projects,” Whan said. “Our maintenance supervisor John Juroff does a great job. Our custodians and maintenance crews look to get larger projects done during these breaks to ensure our buildings and facilities are ready for students to return.”

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact Cass County. As of Wednesday, the county reported 3,021 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 46 deaths.

As the district moves forward into the new year, Whan reflected on 2020 and the resilience the community has shown during unprecedented times.

“As a country, as a state and as a community, we have dealt with things we’ve never dealt with before in our lifetimes,” he said. “There are different perspectives, and there is no perfect answer. Tomorrow’s answer could be different from yesterday’s answer. I am proud of the fact that we have taken everything at us with true concern and dedication to students and staff. Everyone has been flexible.

“There was a lot of emotion,” he continued. “I was able to reflect and see how everyone did their best to pull together during a challenging time to make the best decisions possible. I think we all did the best we could. The phrase ‘hindsight is 2020’ never fit better than it did last year.”

Despite the challenges the pandemic brought and continues to bring, Whan is confident the community and the district will overcome any obstacles in its way.

“It was an incredible life experience we’re still dealing with,” he said. “We continue to weather the storm, but light is on the horizon. We will keep moving forward.”

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