HOWELL, Mich. (WXYZ) — For the first time in nearly five months, students in Howell are waking up to go to school.
Wednesday is the official first day back for Howell Public Schools.
Things will look and feel a lot different for thousands of K-12 students returning to face-to-face learning Wednesday. Elementary, middle, and high school students are back for the first time since March, when the district, like all others in the state, closed its doors due to the pandemic.
Howell Public Schools are one of the first districts in metro Detroit to welcome back students for in-person learning.
85 percent of parents in Howell opted for in-person learning according to superintendent Erin MacGregor, however the district is also offering virtual learning.
Per state guidelines, Howell requires face coverings for students grades six through 12.
“I struggle wearing a mask all day long. It will be very interesting to see how long these schools actually stay open," said Howell parent Mandy Chevalier. She wanted to have her kids learn remotely, but missed the deadline to sign up.
Chevalier said she's also concerned after learning a Howell varsity football player was recently identified as a probable case of COVID-19. In a letter to families, the district said it's believed this was an isolated incident and that any close contacts must quarantine.
Another Howell parent, who also works in the district, Andrea Gorham, told Action News she's confident the district is taking the necessary steps to keep students safe this fall.
“I’m very very confident that everything is going to go great. Obviously it’s a new normal for everyone but I think it’s going to be good," she said.
MacGregor said students will be using a block schedule to promote more social distancing.
“So we have less peer-to-peer contact and less peer-to-teacher contact," he said.
While the district is relaying on parents to health screen their students, MacGregor said attendance policies will be more relaxed this year given the current health crisis.
Howell is starting with just a half day Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Then on Monday of next week, it’s back to full days.