Spring Lake High School has been going strong in person since August 25th - the start of the school year. The first two weeks of school were in a hybrid schedule, with alternating groups of students attending in person class every other day. The hybrid schedule transitioned into a two and a half hour block schedule with everyone in the classroom every day of the week. Now, Spring Lake has moved to a normal 72-minute class schedule, with shorter passing periods and three lunches instead of two. For months, class has been able to continue as normal, with smatterings of students quarantined and relatively few positive cases district-wide. However, as we move swiftly into the winter season and the temperature begins to plummet, COVID-19 cases are rising in Ottawa County.
The sheer number of students and staff in quarantine has become disruptive. While in earlier months only a handful students would be online at a time, now some classes have been reduced to nearly half of their original size. In the elementary schools, there are barely enough teachers and substitutes to accommodate the students. Teachers at Holmes Elementary have been asked to help teach music class, fill in for recess duty, and give up planning time to monitor the lunchroom. The rise in COVID-19 is not isolated to just Spring Lake Schools; the number of infected in Ottawa County as a whole is on the rise.
According to the Michigan Ottawa County website, the number of daily COVID-19 cases has increased dramatically as of the end of October and beginning of November. There was a record high spike of 321 infected on November 5. Due to this rapid increase in cases, Spring Lake Public Schools have opted to close their doors and transition to online until November 30.
Wednesday, November 11 was the last day in person. Students were given Thursday and Friday off to allow teachers time to plan for this new online learning, which starts on Monday, November 16. Athletics are also to be disclosed until December 8th due to Governor Whitmer’s announcements Sunday night. The Fitness and Aquatic Center will remain open. Spring Lake Public Schools will also continue to provide free meals to students during this time.
While learning from home, students are expected to Zoom into all of their classes for attendance purposes. It is then up to the teacher to decide how long the Zoom meeting will be. Some teachers might teach the entire 72 minute period, while others may take attendance and assign an independent assignment for students to complete off screen. The daily schedule will remain the same online as it was in person. Each class is 72 minutes long with 4 minutes in between and three different lunch breaks.
Exams are scheduled to begin on Monday, November 23. Many teachers are already modifying their original tests to accommodate being online. While Lockdown Browser helps prevent cheating in the classroom, it is more difficult to monitor students testing from home.
During this time, it is important for students, teachers, and other members of the community to wear a mask, practice social distancing, and keep their social circles small. If everyone does their part to stop the spread of the virus, Spring Lake students will hopefully return to the classroom for good. While online learning is not ideal, if everyone does their part, it shouldn’t last long.