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Many East Lansing students returning to school this month

Posted at 11:01 AM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 11:01:37-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. — The East Lansing Public School Board has approved a plan to bring many students back into the classroom over the next several weeks.

Board President Terah Chambers says the plan, which passed 6-1 early Tuesday morning, gives families a choice.

"We're very aware that this remote option, just, isn’t working well for a lot of our students and all families," she said. "But up until this point, the remote option was really the safest option.”

Students in pre-K through fifth grade will have the option to begin in-person learning on Feb. 22. Grades six through 12 will begin the week after on March 1.

Families who don't feel comfortable yet and want to see how it goes will have another option to return after spring break.

“There are so many of our students that really need to be back in person for a lot of different reasons," Chambers said. "It's not just that they miss their friends, but there are significant mental health and other challenges they’re facing that really make in person learning the best option for them.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on Michigan school to offer at least some form of in-person instruction by March 1, though aid that would help schools reopen has become a point of contention with Republicans in the state legislature.

Several local districts are nonetheless moving forward with plans. In Williamston, some students have returned to in-person instruction in two cohorts for elementary and secondary levels. The district may be adjusting their plan to allow more students to return, after next Monday's board meeting.

Haslett Public Schools will begin in-person teaching for elementary levels on Feb. 1 and the secondary levels on Feb. 8.

The Lansing School District sent a survey to parents and staff before making their decision. More information on their plan will come after the Feb. 4 board meeting.

“There are certainly some parents who are excited about sending their kids back to schools and some who are not yet comfortable," Chambers said.

She also said being a mom herself, she understands the difficult decision parents are facing.

“I have a fourth grader and it’s so easy to be overwhelmed with the information that comes at us.”

But she added that she's "just really thrilled we can give families that choice so they can make the best decision for them.”