Hart school district takes lead with fall opening plan.

June 2, 2020

Hart Public Schools Superintendent Mark Platt addresses broadcast viewers while Hart Board of Education President Chad Coker, left, and Hart High School Principal Brandon Bruce and Spitler Elementary School Principal Andrea Degen listen.

Hart school district takes lead with fall opening plan.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — Hart Public Schools Superintendent Mark Platt announced plans for opening the district in the fall as the end of 2019-2020 school year draws near in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Students have not attended school in person this school year since March due to executive orders by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Platt, along with school board members, building principals and other school officials, presented a live broadcast on Facebook Tuesday evening, June 2.

It was an unprecedented move by a K-12 school district aimed at taking a proactive approach for returning to the school buildings five days a week in the fall.

“I was hired by Hart Public Schools to run the district,” Platt said. “I will not do it recklessly, and I will not do it passively. This is the time to lead.”

Platt said distance learning during the state-wide closure has not been a “quality educational program” or a “positive experience” despite the hard work that teachers, parents and students put into it.

“Someone has to stand up and say what has happened these last three months can’t happen again.”

“The plan is simple. We are coming back.”

“We need to come back,” Platt said. “The taxpayer deserves more.”

“The district is and will be creating additional safety precautions,” the superintendent said. Shields will be installed at secretarial desks, and the district will have electrostatic sprayers used for disinfecting large areas like buildings and busses.

Additional water bottle refill stations will be added to the school buildings, and drinking fountains will be closed. The schools will have “numerous thermometers” to test for low grade fevers along with additional hand sanitizers.

“We can’t do this alone, and we’re going to need your help as parents. Especially if Johnny isn’t feeling well in the morning. That’s going to be part of the plans of how to handle that. We might need you to keep Johnny home a little more than normal.”

Budget woes are another hurdle school districts face due to the health crisis. “There will be major budget cuts to all Michigan schools — beyond anything in history,” he said.

“We have been good stewards with your money,” Platt said, assuring there will be “little to no staff reductions.”

Officials are working on a strategic plan for the return to school in the fall that the public will be able to review.

Whether or not students will be required to wear masks has not yet been determined.

Platt said state educational focus groups are discussing possible strategies for the return to school in the fall, such as shorter school weeks.

“Do you really want your child to come to school for two days and stay home the rest of the week? Because that is being discussed in Lansing. Do you want your child to participate in sports and not be able to watch it? Because that is being considered by the Michigan High School Athletic Assocation.” Platt encouraged community members to contact to local legislators.

As officials make plans for handling the challenges involved with the upcoming school year, they finalized plans weeks ago to celebrate the Class of 2020.

Hart High School graduation is set for Saturday, June 13, at 11 a.m. at the football stadium. There will be no restrictions regarding the amount of people who can attend due to the amount of space available at the facility, said High School Principal Brandon Bruce. The ceremony will also be broadcast live.

Pirate News is a service of Hart Public Schools in cooperation with Oceana County Press.

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