A Brownell student studies from a tablet (Courtesy of Flint Community Schools).

Flint, MI—Flint Schools officials announced Wednesday that parents and students may have the option to return to in-person learning or continue online instruction as early as Feb. 22. 

The decision comes after Governor Gretchen Whitmer set a statewide goal for all districts to offer in-person learning no later than March 1, though it will not be required.

Following the announcement on Jan. 8, the district sent a letter to students and families originally stating that “Flint Community Schools will continue to maintain remote learning for all scholars.” 

Since, Superintendent Anita Steward said they will move forward with plans to offer in-person instruction for those who wish to return to the classroom. 

The board will hold an official vote on whether parents will have a face-to-face option on Jan. 20. 

“Our kids have been on remote instruction since the start of the school year. Originally, we stated that for as long as he had an option and the percentages [of COVID-19 cases] were high, we would continue to stay with remote instruction. Due to the announcement that was made last week, I wanted to start teeing up the board in regards to a conversation of bringing our staff back as well as our students with the date of March 1,” Superintendent Anita Steward said to board members on Wednesday. 

According to a district survey of parents and students, 41.1% want to return to in-person learning while 57.7% prefer to stay remote, Steward said.  

Staff members will return to classrooms Jan. 18 to begin preparations for in-person learning and start software training. 

Steward said the district plans to use Owl Labs, a teleconferencing system for a hybrid classroom environment that allows students who are remote to see and interact with their peers as if they were there.  

In July 2020, the board approved Flint Schools’ Return to Learn plan, a 55-page document outlining several learning options for families and students. 

Steward said she will revisit the plan at the board of education’s next meeting on Jan. 20 and present more information on district’s next steps.  

Carmen Nesbitt is a journalist with diverse experience in news reporting and feature writing. She wrote for Hour Detroit and SEEN Magazine before joining the Flint Beat news team as an education and public...