Novi schools allow full return to in-person learning

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The Novi school board on Feb. 18 approved a resolution to meet in person and discussed the full return plan for hybrid K-6 students attending in-person classes.

Superintendent Steve Matthews started the meeting by reading comments from the audience who shared concerns for returning. Many questioned the safety of social distancing among students while back in school. Others shared their disappointment with the district creating a full return plan without seeking input from teachers.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the governor have prohibited in-person school board of education meetings. While students and teachers have been returning to face-to-face instruction for COVID-19 safety concerns, school board members are the only individuals not permitted to meet in person. Novi’s board of education approved the resolution for in-person school board meetings.

Matthews said, “We will have our third week of meeting the metrics and so our K-6 group, our hybrid students, will come back to five days of in-person instruction starting Monday, Feb. 22. Our virtual students will stay virtual.

“We’ll be able to manage lunches better, we’ll be able to manage the buses better, we’ll be able to manage hallways better and so we think that bringing our hybrid students back will continue to be able to create those safe conditions.

“This week we will also have met the metrics for our 7-12 group, so if the numbers continue to trend in the direction they are going, we will meet the metrics next week which will be our third week, and so the 7-12 group will come back on March 1.”

Board Secretary Willy Mena said the board also wants to meet in person. “We’ve always been forced by law to meet virtually, so I do hope this passes tonight, and I do hope that other boards around the Metro-Detroit area and around the state pass this and maybe the state will then allow us to start meeting in person once again.”

President Danielle Ruskin said, “For some clarity, this is really a recommendation urging the MDHHS and the governor to make an exception and change their current ruling. I just don’t want anyone to see that this recommendation was passed and think that our next board meeting will be in person, we’re still kind of at the will of them, but we’re just giving our voice to be heard.”

Novi community schools have been following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 metrics to allow in-person classes. 

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