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Families need to choose either full-time virtual or in-school learning

Despite months of planning for the 2020-2021 school year, Sparta Superintendent Pete Bush said the district was — like most schools this year — “in survival mode.”

“We are prepared for everything and of course do not know exactly what will occur,” said Bush, “But we believe we are as prepared as we can be for whatever happens.”

The Sparta plan is simply an either-or proposition. Families may choose to have students go to school for face-to-face instruction or choose a completely virtual program, which will be provided by Michigan Virtual, a state-run online program. The district requires students to enroll in an entire semester for grades 6-12 and a trimester for grades K-5. 

Surveys indicate that about 22-24 percent of families will choose virtual education for at least one semester. “This will help us significantly reduce class sizes, which will help with social distancing issues,” said Bush

In the case of a renewed statewide school closure or unforeseen health issues in the district, students enrolled in face-to-face education would revert to “emergency remote learning” with the same classroom teachers they had during in-classroom instruction, while virtual learners would experience no interruption of their planned studies, said Bush.

“This has been a tremendously hard choice for parents,” he said. Even after the final deadline to choose had passed, he noted, there were over 300 undecided families. 

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Janice Holst
Janice Holst is a reporter covering Kent City and Sparta. She has been both a teacher and a journalist. A former MLive reporter, she wrote features and covered local government and schools for Advance Newspapers for nearly two decades. She also was a recipe columnist and wrote features for Mature Life Style and occasional entertainment pieces for On The Town magazines. She lives in Sparta Township and enjoys spending some of her retirement hours writing the stories of the northern Kent County school districts. Read Janice's full bio

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