Children discuss returning to school after the governor’s Return to School guidelines released

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Courtesy of Brandi Orris

Emma, Olivia and Jack Oriss’s masks

With summer halfway over, children are beginning to consider what life will be like if, when and how return to school.

Jack Orris is not happy about having to wear a face mask while attending school.

Orris, a seventh grader at St. Frances Cabrini Middle School in Allen Park, says that he does not like wearing face masks because they feel hot on his face.

He is not alone.

Naseem Basha, a third grader at Kinlock Elementary School in Dearborn Heights, agrees.

“I feel like it’s going to be pretty annoying because when I generally go into the hall, it’s so hot so with a mask on it would be annoying,” says Basha.

On June 30, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announced her education plan, “MI Safe Schools Return to School Roadmap.” The document contains 63 pages detailing the steps to safely reopen schools in the fall. The phase four safety protocols require that pre-K-12 students wear face masks in the hallways, on buses and in common areas. Students in grades six through 12 must wear face masks in classrooms at all times.

“[Wearing] face masks in the hallway is kind of irritating because kids will try to pull them down, they will mess around with them,” said Nadim Basha, a fifth grader at Riverside Middle School in Dearborn Heights. “It’s going to be really annoying for kids to keep their mask on because like it’s bothering your ears when you put the straps on and you have to tighten it. It’s crazy.”

Alec Jewell, a kindergartner at Westfield Charter Academy in Redford Charter Township said he is excited to wear his face mask to school. He recently got a new one that has fish on it and is looking forward to showing it to his whole class.

Courtesy of Marin Jacoby

Alec Jewell poses with his new fish mask

In addition to the face mask requirement for schools, it is also recommended that students eat their lunch in classrooms or outdoors if proper distancing guidelines cannot be met in cafeterias.

“[Eating in classrooms is good] because then there’s not many people like altogether and we can social distance more,” said Olivia Orris, a fifth grader at Cabrini.

Avery Gutierrez, a second grader at Ferry Elementary School in Grosse Pointe Woods, said he thinks that eating lunch in classrooms is a good thing because he can eat lunch at a table.

Nadim Basha isn’t so sure.

“[Lunch is] a time where you and your friends can all meet up and talk and do whatever you want to,” said Basha. “And with the teachers around or if you’re just sitting in your homeroom, it’s a small area and you can’t get up at all and go talk with your friends… so I don’t know if it’s better.”

Athletics will be set up differently as well. According to Whitmer’s roadmap, equipment must be wiped down, athletes must not make any unnecessary contact and they should be sanitizing their hands before and after every practice or event.

“I play soccer,” said Jack Orris. “It already has [been different]. I started practice a few weeks ago, we can’t have contact so it’s more just fitness and footwork.”

Naseem Basha, who plays football, said he thinks that it’s going to be harder to play games because it’s going it’s going to be very hot after the games.

Courtesy of Deanna Basha

Naseem and Nadim Basha pose with their masks

Schools are deciding if they are going to go fully online for classes or if they are going to have half of the students come to school at the beginning of the week and the other half at the end. This means that children may have a much harder time being able to interact with their friends.

Emma Orris, third grader at Cabrini, said she will be “bummed” if she does not get to see her friends.

“No, [I won’t be able to see or talk to my friends as much], because it’s going to get really annoying with this coronavirus,” said Nadim Basha. “Now since the thing is starting to go up, we’re going to have to be separated from each other which means only school, maybe hang out a tiny but after school, and then leave so we won’t really meet up together a lot.”