Schoolcraft schools survey community on COVID

By Travis Smola

The Schoolcraft School District community is divided on issues related to COVID-19, with more than half of parents responding to a survey saying they should decide if their children should wear masks while attending school.

Superintendent Rick Frens described results of the survey to the Board of Education.

The district received 720 responses. Frens included a long list of the written responses to each board member and encouraged all of them to read in their spare time.

“Read the comments. They are all over,” Frens said. “There’s just a lot of good feedback in there.”

Among parents, more than half the respondents felt parents should be the ones to decide if their children should be masked at school or not. The rest were split almost evenly between supporting the current mask mandate for students and staff in young-five through sixth grade and those who think it should go through 12th grade.

While not all parents are in favor of masks, 60.5 percent of respondents supported the increased use of rapid testing in the district to reduce the number of school days missed. The district also asked parents how safe they felt their child was at school on a scale from 1-10. Only 14 parents responded with a one on the scale. Most parents, 278 responses making up 38.7 percent of the total, gave the district a 10. A majority also said they would feel safe sending their child back to school if a mandate was lifted.

Among staff, the 78 responses varied a bit from the parents. The responses showed 44.7 percent of staff agreed parents should be able to choose whether to mask their children. Only 23.7 percent were in favor of a Pre-K through 12 mandate on masking.

Twenty staff members gave the district a 10 on how safe they felt at school; 11 respondents gave a five, and 17 gave an eight. Only one respondent gave a one.

The survey also asked staff their thoughts on possible vaccine mandates or weekly rapid testing. Approximately 85 percent of responders said they would continue working for the district if either was put into place. Frens said two respondents indicated they would not continue to work for the district if there was an order mandating vaccination. Another two staff members said they were not sure.

For now, Frens said the district is not doing anything until administrators see what happens with an order mandating the vaccine. He believes it is an issue that may get caught up in the courts for a while, so they are staying the course.

In other news, the board approved a request for proposals to update the district’s logos and signage and standardize the appearance. The district is putting the request out to local companies.

The board also approved a larger request for four schools to join the SAC Conference. Athletic Director Jeff Clark said the move is widely supported for Allegan, South Haven, Bridgeman and Black River to join the SAC by districts and coaches. The move could save the district a little on travel since they will be able to find more games closer to home in their league.

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