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Parents divided on in-person versus virtual learning debate for Michigan students

Rally planned in Rochester Thursday morning
Posted at 7:23 AM, Aug 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-13 07:24:55-04

School districts across Michigan face the difficult decision of choosing in-person or online learning this fall.

It's dividing parents everywhere. As the debate continues, so do the rallies.

School districts have until this Saturday to submit their re-opening plan to the State Education Department.

In Rochester, parents plan to rally for in-person learning after the district opted for 100 percent virtual learning, along with Dearborn schools.

"So we did decide, and it is official that we plan to start online to start the year," said Dr. Glenn Maleyko, Dearborn schools superintendent. "And we are looking at a phase in process."

Superintendent Dr. Maleyko says a committee came to the decision, after weighing multiple options including a hybrid of in-person and online learning.

But as the state's third largest district, he says the halls and the buses would be too crowded for social distancing.

The exception? He says the district will allow those who need extra help and have a language barrier to attend limited in-person instruction.

"I think we all also have to come from the framework and understand that online virtual learning in no way fully exchange the quality that you would get for in-person," said Dr. Maleyko. "And understand with our plan, we are enhancing, we continue to enhance online and in some ways we've been ahead because of the work we've done."

Dearborn students would learn online at least through Oct. 1.

Wednesday night, Lake Orion's school board voted unanimously to begin the year with remote learning Sept. 8, with a plan to start in-person learning on Nov. 9.

In Troy, another unanimous vote for online learning as well.

Superintendent Dr. Richard Machesky says he'll present the school with a return-to-learn plan that details logistics and costs for face-to-face, virtual and hybrid learning for the remainder of the school year. Then it's once again up to the board.

"We need to go slow to go fast. Whenever we get to the point where students are in class, because we will be there, we want to make sure we can sustain that over time," said Dr. Richard Machesky , Troy superintendent.

In Rochester, the school board is going with virtual learning. That's despite thousands of parents signing a petition for in-person learning. So, a rally is planned Thursday morning to change some minds.